Advent begins this year on December 3, and ends this year on Christmas Eve Day. The word Advent means “coming,” as we await the coming of Christ in three ways: in the flesh, as he did on that star-lit night more than 2,000 years ago; in our hearts, as we hope and pray happens at Christmas but also the whole year long; and again at the end of the age.
This is big, heady stuff. But if you walk through Target, or any department store or drug store or craft store, it would appear that all we have to do in order to prepare is to decorate. And then if we read the cooking magazines, we also have to cook, and to set a beautiful table. Oh, and buy all the presents and wrap them in beautiful packages and send the cards and take the perfect photos while building perfect snow-people and hang perfect light displays and then all will be right with the world.
If only. If only it were that easy, which is funny to say, because that all sounds exhausting.
This Advent – in this season of preparation, as we await the arrival of Christ in our hearts and our homes and our streets and everywhere else we so desperately need the love of God to be made flesh – my prayer is that we are able to see through all the hype, in order to prepare in a way that really matters, and doesn’t just keep up with the Joneses.
It’s a prayer for myself as much as it is for any of you.
My prayer for all of us, in this season of preparation, is an overwhelming sense of understanding what it’s all about, in the end. Because that will lead to rituals and traditions that matter and give us meaning. It will lead to stories and conversations that go beyond just the surface. It will lead to celebrations that are more authentic than they are picture-perfect.
Happy Advent, dear people of God. Happy preparation, for the greatest gift we’ve ever been given.