On Friday night, I had just returned from taking my brother to the airport. My parents were still here for one more night of our Thanksgiving holiday together, and we decided to pull out some of our Christmas decorations. As everyone was sitting by the fire enjoying time together, I went down to the basement to find some of our Christmas boxes. We are in the process of remodeling our basement so some of the boxes were difficult to reach as they have been moved around quite a bit over the last few months in order to get work done, but I was on a mission and was determined to track them down. I muscled my way to lift the heavy boxes and began to haul them upstairs. At one point, I was flying up the stairs with a box in tow. As I turned around to head back down to get another box, I bumped hard into Jason who was also walking in the hallway. I apologized to him, but then had to laugh at myself at the irony of the whole thing. I had gotten so focused on getting the decorations out that I had lost sight of why I was putting them up in the first place to mark the start of Advent on Sunday.
Walter Brueggermann shared in an Advent guide that “The season of Advent comes before Christmas, both in time and spirit. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest November 30 and includes the four Sundays before Christmas. Originally, Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning coming) was a season of solemn self-examination and repentance by the faithful in preparation for celebrating the birth of Christ. How different is the way our society observes the season! The first Sunday of Advent is often overshadowed by the Thanksgiving weekend, the biggest shopping weekend of the year. During these Advent weeks, anything but parties, frantic shopping and decorating seems out of place…. In our society, we are bombarded daily with images of a “good Christmas” that have little to do with either reality of faith. With such energy- and money- spent on cultural trappings during December, when Christmas does come it often finds us spiritually, emotionally, and financially exhausted. Vague feelings of guilt about misspent energy and resources may undermine the great joy and renewal we might experience at the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We can resist commercialization only with careful and deliberate preparation. For Christians, Advent is a way to get ready to observe the birth of Christ so that it can be an occasion for genuine joy and renewal.” [i]
As I laugh about my ramming speed with which I bumped into Jason, I hope that I can slow down the pace a bit and carve out some time to exhale this season remembering the reason we are celebrating it in the first place.
from our church bulletin this morning: "Advent is a four-week season of preparation for Christmas. Celebrated by the Church at least as early as the sixth century, it marks the beginning of the Christian liturgical year. Most importantly, it offers a special way to focus on the meaning of our Lord's birth, and to look forward to his coming again. Let us use this time to turn again to the God who keeps seeking us in love."