What are You Waiting for?
I want you to take a minute and think about something that you were desperately looking forward to, something that you had been planning and preparing for and were really excited about. Maybe it was a trip, or a wedding, or the birth of a child.
Capture that anticipation.
Consider how you prepared for it.
What did that feel like?
And when it finally arrived, how did you feel?
Are you feeling that same over-the-top excitement right now, as you look forward to Christmas?
If you are not feeling that way about our upcoming celebration of THE BIG EVENT, then I might be able to offer you a solution that will put you in the right mindset.
Too often we skip right over the season of Advent, which is such a wonderful time, a gift to us really, as we begin the new church year.
If you haven’t heard of Advent, or if you are minimally familiar with it, let me tell you about it. It will change everything for you. It will introduce a new tradition into your family that will be your gift to them for generations to come.
Once we became more aware of the season in our home, we celebrated it with our kids every year. But do not mistake it for simply a nice tradition. It is so much more than that.
Advent, as a season, is comprised of the four weeks leading up to Christmas. We just celebrated the first Sunday of Advent December 1st.
It is a time of waiting, of silence, of spiritual preparation. Now if it has already occurred to you that it comes during one of the noisiest times of the year, you would be right!
As the retail world swirls around us in a great frenzy, Advent stills the noise. It calms our spirit and leads us closer to God. One of the outcomes of celebrating Advent is that we arrive at Christmas filled with joy and ready to celebrate—no grumbling allowed!
The first thing you can do to set the stage for Advent is to make or buy an Advent wreath. They can be inexpensive or as costly as you like. I recommend keeping it very simple. For some people (like those in a nursing home whose space may be limited), even a nice picture can help them focus.
I would encourage you to learn more about Advent and the Advent wreath, its meanings and symbols; here is a link that gives you more information.
For us, we light the candles once a week (usually on Sunday or Monday) and watch as the light (Christ!) penetrates the darkness. We read a scripture passage for that week, sing a song, and pray together, asking for God’s blessings on those in need.
Are you alone during this time of year? No problem. You are still invited to enjoy the season of Advent.
It does not have to be complicated; you can design it in a way that works for you and your family. If this is your first year doing it, you may expect a little push back from preteens. Be gentle. This is new to them.
I always tell people who are beginning a new spiritual practice, like praying together, to be honest with their children and let them know that you are continuing to grow in your faith as well and that you would like to begin a new practice that reflects that. You can learn together. Even if they don’t turn out to be great participants, they can at least be silent spectators for now!
We want to be careful not to jump past Advent in our preparations for Christmas. Give yourself and your family this beautiful opportunity to come together and make Christ the center of your lives, as you plan and prepare for his coming.
The link I offered above includes the three “comings” of Christ: First, his birth at Christmas, second, his coming through grace in sacrament and the life of the Church, and third, his final coming at the end of time.
Let us open our hearts and homes to the coming of Christ, preparing ourselves during Advent this year. Let us be careful not to rush to Christmas, for it is now a time of expectation and eager longing.
May God give you the courage to make space during the upcoming weeks to dare to be different and reshape your family traditions to include the season of Advent.