Advent tries to tell the truth about the need of the world. As the world grows darker–at least in the northern hemisphere–the readings and the hymnody of the Christian assembly, its simplicity, and the slowly growing light of its wreath of candles all speak of waiting and hoping. The point is not a pretended waiting, as if Jesus were not yet born and we were waiting for his coming. That use of Advent inevitably short-circuits its elemental power. Rather, Advent helps the church tell the truth about the actual conditions of the current world–in winter in the northern hemisphere, but through the imagery of that concrete situation also in all the world in all of our seasons. The darkness may be a symbol of waiting for the light, just as hungry people wait for food in all seasons, war-devastated countries wait for peace, prisoners wait for release, the poor wait for the possibility of hope.
–Gordon Lathrop, The Pastor (Fortress Press, 2011)