I have noticed that by the time Christmas comes, my family gladly collapses together because we are all so tired from ‘celebrating’ for a full month. What if Advent is about more than simply anticipating Christmas?
As a self-identified “Martha” interested in offering the best hospitality, there are lists to make, lists to double check, lists to triple check, cards to write, blogs to write, gifts to buy, order, & make, menus to set, baking to be done, calendars to balance between work & parties, travel plans to coordinate, & extra church services & activities to go to & help with. I’m tired just writing that list. What if preparing for Christmas & living Advent are related, but different tasks?
Rather than upping the ante to include more of everything good we can think of- people, food, gifts, etc.- what if Advent is a time of reordering rather than simply adding?
The Eastern Orthodox Christian equivalent to the Western Advent is The Nativity Fast. The Nativity Fast is observed for 40 days before Christmas & is a time of penance. Remember how meaningful Easter is after observing Lent. What if Advent was a winter Lent? What if Advent more closely resembled Lent rather than a month long bake sale? How might observing Advent in this way change Christmas?
Advent is defined as “a coming into place, view, or being; arrival, the coming of Christ into the world” [dictionary.com]. In order to truly arrive at Christmas with more than full arms & calendars, but a full spirit, spiritual preparation and thoughtfulness must be not a consideration or task, but the main priority.
Living Advent means being present in this moment without getting carried away with the celebration we know is coming. Living Advent means breathing in God’s love deeply. Living Advent means opening ourselves in order to receive the gift of Jesus Christ. Living Advent means loving God and The Church more than stuff and traditions. Living Advent means opening our hearts to being Bethlehem.
Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning ‘coming’. Coming is a process, not necessarily a final destination or task with a definitive ending. Perhaps Advent is about the process of coming. Coming to deeper faith. Coming to deeper community. Coming to reordered priorities. Coming to God as we remember God coming to us, Emmanuel.