When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them. — Psalm 126

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, and like always, it seems impossible that it’s time for Advent. Christmas is around the corner . . .  again. Yet, also like usual, I am comforted and excited to begin the Advent season.

Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, is the time in the church calendar when, as Christians, we sit in anticipation. We anticipate the celebration of Jesus coming to earth as a baby born in a stable, but we also wait in hope for the time that Jesus will come again and set all things right.

As shopping trips and social events stack up, Advent reminds us to sit. The holiday season is the busiest time of year for most of us, but instead of hurry up, Advent asks us to wait. Advent gives us the space to look through the veneer of Christmas “cheer” and to see those who sow with tears. We can watch for those who go out weeping. We can sit around the table with those whose fortunes need restoring. Advent is a time for us to allow others in when we can sing nothing but sad songs.

Advent speaks to a reality that is deeper than pine trees, tacky sweaters, and an old man in a red suit. Advent speaks into our sorrows and the brokenness in the world. When the weight of injustice and sorrow in the world feels too heavy to bear, Advent creates space for the Spirit to whisper, “Yes . . . but . . . ”

Yes, people are sowing seeds of tears. But, they return with songs of joy. Yes, fortunes have been lost and the tides have been turned. But, they return with arms full. Yes, the world was lost, but God became one of us at Christmas. Yes, there is sorrow and brokenness in the world, but we have hope in knowing that Christ is coming again.

On this first Monday of the Advent season, I pray that this season we will cultivate the space to sit and wait, and I pray that we will find hope for the joy to come.

Lauren Brewer Bass and her husband David live and serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.They blog regularly at www.davidandlaurenbass.com. Lauren is also the author of Five Hundred Miles: Reflections on Calling & Pilgrimage.