Advent - It has come quickly this year. There are only 22 shopping days 'til Christmas (fewer than that if you shop on line and expect something to be delivered by Christmas day). But is that what Advent is really about?
I don't think so. It is about expectantly waiting for the celebration of Christ's birth for sure. It is about looking and hoping for the coming in glory of Jesus to claim and establish his eternal kingdom. It is about listening to and for God's voice in the midst of all the bustle and crazy, hectic schedules of this time of year.
At times I wonder if I am coming or going? Who's coming to the party I've planned? I've got to go this meeting and that party, and, oh yes, the concert tomorrow night. Christmas is coming so I have to get going. I of course am going to church, I wonder if anyone else will be coming. Coming and going. Going and coming. Judy and I are so busy we hardly have a chance to talk to each other.
I read a book this week called "The Circle of Seasons." The author Kimberlee Conway Ireton reflects that Advent is much like the experience of a pregnant woman awaiting the day her child will be delivered. Advent is a time of waiting and preparation - or at least it should be.
Waiting is not a passive thing - it is dynamic hope; it is staking our life on the hope of the Gospel.
It is preparing to hear God's voice in the familiar Christmas story. It is eagerly expecting the arrival of Christ in glory. I remember one person telling me that the Biblical concept of hope is much like hanging onto a safety rope for dear life as you dangle over the edge of a precipice. Am I hanging onto the Lord like that? Am I eagerly waiting for Christ to come anew?
And yet we, I guess I should say I, clutter it up with all our comng and going; so much so that it is easy to lose the true meaning of the season which is all about Jesus.
Hey, the lights are great (after all, I spent a lot of time organizing and decorating our boat). I love the music. And who can say no to all the incredible food laid out before us at party after party after party? All those things make this season wonderful too. But they can also add stress and anxiety if we're not careful and we let them take precedence.
The four main, traditional themes of the Advent season are hope (first week) peace (second week) joy (third week) and love (fourth week). This year I have been trying to slow down enough to really focus on those ideas and see how Christ wants me to live them out.
The angels said to the shepherds (and it is a good word to us as well) "Don't be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. Unto you is born this day in the city a David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Well, I better get going. I have someone coming to my office soon for an appointment.