Advent 2015

advent 1The Christmas season is approaching, and stores are already sparkling with tinsel and wreaths. I’ve ordered my first gifts online, and my calendar for December is already half full with commitments big and small. Leaves are still clinging to the trees outside, and we’ve decided where to place the Christmas tree in our new apartment.

[“Obviously,” you think – except I wrote these words two weeks ago before Remembrance Day had even passed.]

It is possible to spend so much time getting ready for Christmas that the holiday itself passes by in a blur of peppermint extract and paper snowflakes, and when Christmas is over we sigh with relief and hunker down to nap off the calories.

Enter Advent.

In the church calendar, the Christmas season doesn’t even begin until Dec 25 – the weeks leading up to it prepare us and lead us to reflect on the season and the days following Christmas, the actual Christmas season, when radio stations have gone back to regular programming and many Christmas trees are packed up or dragged down the driveway.

I need advent this year more than I have before, or at least I feel my need for it more. My heart weighs heavy filtering the realities of our present through my hope for the future, praying for loved ones and strangers and myself, and I don’t want to rush through the waiting. Advent is more than 24 days of tiny chocolates hiding behind cardboard windows – it echoes the wait for a Messiah through generations. Advent holds space for us to remember that hope, love, peace and joy are not just sparkly words for holiday cards but soul-sustaining promises from God to his people.

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