This season is the high point of the year for many people around the world. The preparation for Christmas, the decorating, the parties, the buying of presents and gathering of families ...
This year, I find myself saying, "It can't be December!" Or "It doesn't feel like it's time to get ready for Christmas." My insides are not ready for this -- for the increased traffic, for the crowds, for the frantic feeling that I can't get it all done, or that I'm going to forget something or someone very important. I told a friend recently that I wished someone would stop fast-forwarding December! (Who's in charge of the world's remote control?)
I guess that's why I really like Advent, the season of the church year preceding Christmas. (Advent starts this year on November 30.) Advent, liturgically speaking, is the period including the four Sundays before Christmas during which Christians prepare our hearts, minds, and spirits for the Advent, the birth, of the Christ Child. Webster defines the word "advent" as "a coming into being" (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Tenth Edition).
"A coming into being." That's what I'm in need of right now. I need this time of Advent to bring me into being, to prepare my heart, to make my spirit ready for the birth of a baby, God's baby. Perhaps we all need this time of Advent to slow us down, to open our ears to God's quiet voice, to guide us through the chaos of the Christmas culture. As we make our way through this busy month, let us allow God to shape our minds and hearts -- to become a part of God's "coming into being" in Jesus' birth.
O come Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel ...
Come, Emmanuel, God-with-Us. Come quickly to our hearts and our spirits. Save us from the captivity of busyness and preoccupation, wealth and commercialism.
... that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear. ...
Come, Emmanuel, God-with-Us. Let us know your presence in the midst of our loneliness and grief, our sickness and sorrow. We thirst, we long for you even as we fill our lives with so many things. Open our eyes that we might see your face in the faces around us, that we might hear your voice in the noises filling the air.
shall come to thee, O Israel.
Emmanuel, God-with-Us, we await your advent with songs of joy and shouts of praise. Help us to make spaces in our busy lives that we may welcome your coming. Come, Creator. Come, Spirit. Come, Christ. Make your home in us today. Amen.