Advent is truly a time of preparation, expectation, and longing. Advent carries a somber tone and soon-but-not-yet feeling, yet these descriptors give us the idea that there is no joy presently and we are just waiting for the real event to begin. That, I suppose, is why Advent is for most people just a placeholder for Christmas. It is the starvation diet you endure in order to pig out at the party. No wonder there is such a strong pull to call Advent the “Holiday Season”—because everyone is always looking for more joy!
Fear not, and rejoice! The Prophet Zephaniah (3:14-20) has come to rescue you from the dark, dreary, and joyless Advent. Sing loudly with exaltation and gladness. Shout with all your heart about the great and powerful God who has claimed you, for God is doing the same about you. God rejoices over his people and saves them from shame and despair, changing them into praise, renown, and jubilation.
But you say, “But I don’t always feel it.” Of course not. Don’t be fooled so easily. We don’t always have the joy of Christmas or the warmth of summer or the constant care and support of family and friends. When we do, it’s natural to sing and rejoice, but Advent and Zephaniah remind us that we don’t praise God only when we feel and experience good things. We rejoice even in exile and longing.
Sing aloud, shout with joy! For in all times we have a great and mighty God who loves us in Jesus Christ.