Thursday, December 3, 2015

Advent is Here

I can’t believe the Christmas season has officially started. I don’t know about you, but I truly enjoy Christmas! Call me a sap, but the sound of Christmas carols in the air helps me lift the heavy weights I carry around my shoulders all year round, and for a moment, I seem to walk a little lighter. This is not to say that I am happy about the commercialization of the season and about the fact that in order to squeeze the most possible profit out of the Christmas shopping spree, businesses have entirely discarded Thanksgiving and jumped right into Christmas the day after Halloween. By any means, I don’t think that’s right at all. But there is something about the idea of getting Christmas decorations out the attic or wherever we store them for the year right after Thanksgiving that brings joy to my, so often troubled mind.

This year, I’d like to write a series of Christmas posts that I pray reflect not only my love for the season, but the importance of keeping our eyes on the One who Became Flesh to walk among us and be our Emmanuel. For this purpose, I’d like to start with some thoughts about Advent.

For starters, growing up in Panama, I never, really celebrated Advent. At church, of course, they did follow the liturgical, Calendario de Adviento or Advent Calendar. But we never did anything special at home to commemorate this part of the season. There was no Advent Wreath, or candles or readings…nothing really. I knew it was the weeks preceding Christmas and that it was a time to prepare for the arrival of the birth of Christ, but this time really got lost in the hustle and bustle of dreaming about presents and of concocting the best strategies to get them…yes, even in a place like Panama, the kid-year revolves around the hope of a bounty of toys for Christmas.

Once here in the States, for years I still didn’t pay much attention to Advent. Now, however, I want to be more intentional about this period of time. This is why I want to start my Christmas meditations focusing on Advent. The secular definition of the term, according to the dictionary, among other things, is arrival. It is the action of coming into being. And that’s exactly what it is! It is the time we celebrate our Almighty God coming into being in human form. It is the moment we set aside to deeply contemplate the truth of the God Incarnate…the God in the flesh. It is His arrival on this earth.

For us, however, besides it being a time to celebrate and contemplate, it is also a time to wait. Advent is the time we set aside to wait not just for Christmas, but for that other day, hopefully not too far away, when we’ll see our Lord come back again…triumphant, crowned with many crowns, to reign and to rule the world as its Rightful King.

Though waiting is in itself a rather passive action, it IS an action. It requires a number of activities such as active listening, active communicating, and often times, a whole lot of sitting. That’s why I love the picture that is going to anchor all my posts about Advent so much. This wonderful picture of an empty couch in the middle of a Christmas tree field was taken by my very talented photographer friend Natalie Williams and she so graciously allowed me to use it for my Christmas series for free.

I fell in love with the picture because the image of the couch reminded me of waiting, and that is not something I do adequately. I am not a patient woman and waiting is not among my virtues. But so much of life is spent in waiting. Thinking of it as an action, however, brings me comfort. It appeals to my control-freak nature and it makes me feel like time is not a waste. The more I surrender to God’s plan and accept the periods of waiting as part of it; I realize I’ve done my best thinking while in these periods. So why not embrace them!

When I saw this picture, I imagined myself safely reclined on this beautiful couch, covered by a comfy blanket, under the watchful eye of my Savior, listening to His voice while reading His Word. There’s no other place I’d rather be…and that’s what I’ll do this Advent, I’ll wait…I’ll wait for Him to speak to me…I’ll get out of the way and surrender to His designs for my life, which I know are the best…I’ll curl up on this couch in my mind and wait for Him to show me His glory, to show me His face…perhaps you’d like to hang out with me…waiting is always better when done in the company of those we love.

I hope you come and visit me through the season. Enjoy every minute of your days. Hold your loved ones close and wait for the arrival of Our Emmanuel.

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