“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matthew 24:36
Let’s face it; we are not good at waiting. We want everything right this second. Instant news, instant communication, insta pot we want it all, and we want it right now. We all seem to be moving at 90 miles per hour with no let-up in sight. We move from one thing to another but never stop to enjoy that thing we are moving from.
Thursday is Thanksgiving, and I am already seeing Christmas decorations starting to appear. I used to be a bit more militant about not decorating for Christmas until at least after Thanksgiving, but I am beginning to let up just a bit. If putting your Christmas decorations up and listening to Christmas music brings you joy and brightens your day, then, by all means, decorate.
But remember that between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the season of Advent, and the season of Advent asks us to slow down and wait.
I recall, as a child having to wait on Christmas morning to open gifts. My brothers and I would wake up but would have to wait whilst my parents and grandmother made coffee and took their places in our living room. So we waited and opened the presents in our stockings, some patiently, others not so much.
It is unclear when the Christian Church began to commemorate Advent. Still, it has been around since at least the Council of Tours in 567, when monks were directed to fast during December in anticipation of the Nativity. Advent is a penitential season much like that of Lent, but it is also a season of hope, hope in the coming of the Christ Child.
Advent is a time of waiting, waiting for the gift of the Christ child, but it is also a time of reflection and affirmation.
Each week of Advent has a theme for us to reflect on. We begin in hope and faith. Faith is the “assurance of things not seen,” Hope comes when we imagine new possibilities. I hope for a better world and the possibility that we will all use our talents to make that happen.
Following hope comes peace. One of the titles of Jesus is the Prince of Peace, for that is what Jesus brings peace. Peace is an ideal, but it is an ideal worth all the effort. However, peace begins with each of us, and we achieve that peace by slowing down and taking time to appreciate what we have and those around us.
Halfway through our journey, we come upon the theme of Joy. The Gospel for this day is Mary’s Song of joy, knowing that she will soon deliver her child and how blessed she feels being chosen by God for this great honor. Anticipation is building as we get closer, and our hearts begin to overflow with joy.
During the final week of Advent, we reflect upon the theme of Love. If I had to summarize the message of the Gospel and the Nativity in one word, it would be love. God’s love for all of humanity is manifested in the birth of the Christ child, for once again, the creator is walking with creation, and the great chasm has been repaired.
The commemoration of Advent began as a penitential season with prayer and fasting, but now it has all but disappeared from the landscape of our faith. These weeks leading up to Christmas are an essential time to slow down and spiritually prepare for the coming season. Do yourself a favor and slow down; you will appreciate Christmas much more if you do.