Lutherans are often portrayed as being a “Lent” sort of people. Somber, slow chorales. A generally dark disposition. Anyone who looks too cheerful and happy must be a charismatic or something. Yet, if anyone is too sad or (ahem) depressed, they must not know Jesus loves them. Sometimes it’s hard being Lutheran
Yet in comes the season of Advent! Advent, which it’s joyous and hopeful hymnody, yet penitential character, seems to me to reflect perfectly the paradox which is Lutheranism, and dare I say Christianity itself. We receive the Gifts now, but they are not here in their fulness. We look for the coming of the Savior, but we do so with both repentance and joy. Our readings for the season do not reflect simply a period of pre-Christmas. Rather, they focus on Jesus entrance into Jerusalem to die, his return in glory, and the preparation of repentance preached by John and all the prophets.
So as a Lutheran pastor who suffers from clinical depression, I find a great deal of joy in the season. In a chemically toned down sort of way, of course. The season reflects perfectly what it means for me to be a Christian today. I am torn between rejoicing in God’s gifts now and wanting it all to be over so we can get to the good stuff.
For most people suffering from depression, we are entering into the darkest period. It is winter, so less sunlight. It is the “holiday” season, so we have extended interaction with family, and all the conflict which inevitably ensues. For pastors, this is the start of the 3-4 busiest months of the year in terms of preaching and catechesis. EVERYTHING happens from December to early April. I always feel like I should get a medal after Easter.
Yet there is hope in this season. It stands in stark contrast to the fake and plastic joy of our culture. The hope which Christ offers is real, not contrived. There is an end, there is joy now, and Christ Himself is coming.
Be at peace, brothers and sisters. Our Lord is coming. Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus!