’Tis the season. Everyone’s out shopping for that special something for everyone on their list. We are all busy, running around like worker bees, catching ourselves coming and going. There are Christmas programs and holiday recitals and parties and gatherings and a long list of things to do.
In the midst of all of that, it’s easy to forget that the Christmas season BEGINS on December 25. It’s easy to forget that this season of giving—which we have all so often interpreted to mean buying things for other people—is not a consumer opportunity.
It’s easy to forget that what we’re entering is Advent, and we are preparing for the coming of Our Savior. He’s going to come to us on December 25, and He’s going to show us how to be humble, how to be meager, how to be like Him.
Right after her childbirth, Mary, in that dirty old stable (which was probably more of a cave, scholars tell us), had a troupe of rough men—shepherds—come and surround her. Her hospitality is a lesson to us. This Advent and Christmas, how will we welcome those who don’t fit the bill as being expected guests? How will we show charity—love of neighbor—to everyone around us, even the people we don’t know, don’t like, don’t care about?
Jesus was born a Jew. He was born after a history of waiting. All good Jews were praying for their Messiah. They were waiting for another David—someone with glitz and glamour (and maybe a couple hundred wives). They were all set to take down the Roman Empire, to overthrow the world, to have a Messiah who would rule and reign just like the big time kings of old.
Who they got was Jesus, a Savior who valued service and poverty, who reminded them what the Law really meant, who spoke of God as an intimate Father and as a merciful Judge.
What must it have been like, to be so long awaited, so long anticipated, and be not at all what people wanted or expected? How did Jesus’ history as a Jew prepare Him for this?
Tis the season, but not as we expect. Tis the season to remember where we come from and where we are going. Tis the season to prepare our hearts, refine our minds, point ourselves heavenward, even as we reflect on our salvation history.
My prayer for you as we begin Advent is that you find joy in waiting for Jesus, in preparing for His Day, that you revel in the Hope that is Advent.
For your reflection: How can I refocus myself and my family on the watchful spirit of the Advent season?