But before we enter into that joyful season when we will shout, "Joy
to the world, the Lord has come," we must wait.
We must light
candles to scatter the darkness.
We must prepare our corners of the world for what "advent"
literally means: "arrival."
As we anticipate our cantatas and caroling celebrations, our
waiting can easily turn into worry. Will that shepherd remember his
line? What time should we have that cookie exchange? Are we
exchanging gifts? Should we opt for a "white elephant"?
Before we get to the "reason for the season," we must first wait
and prepare our hearts for what this arrival means. Before Christmas
must come Advent, the season when we remember how God put on flesh
and moved into the neighborhood.
It is a time for us to sit with our contrasting emotions: We are
eager, yet frazzled; sentimental, yet indifferent. We often sense
the deeper meaning of the season, but in the midst of our busy
lives, feel like we are grasping in vain. This process can leave us
drained and emotionally frustrated.
Advent invites us to stop, to listen and to be,
amidst the hustle and bustle. Mother Teresa once noted that the
first person to welcome Christ was John the Baptist, who leapt for
joy at his recognition, though both of them were still within their
mother's wombs. Advent invites us to see past superficial
distractions that prevent us from joyfully recognizing the still,
small voice of God that whispers ever so sweetly, "I am God with us.
I am God with you."
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