Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has passed — we seemed to have survived “Black Friday”, “Small Business Saturday”, and Cyber Monday. In between of course, we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. And then, there was all the Powerball frenzy in the hope of winning $545 million.
We take a deep breathe as we enter the Season of Advent. I have never been one to believe or preach that the celebration of Advent required us to ignore the festive spirit of these weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas. We can decorate our homes with a tree and a wreathe, shop for friends and family AND GIVE TO CHARITY, and attend holiday gatherings /// and pay attention to those with whom we live and work //// ….AND, WE CAN HAVE A GOOD ADVENT. IF WE CAN SPEND TIME EACH DAY … AND EACH WEEK FOCUSING ON THE MESSAGE OF THE SCRIPTURE, then we will be ready on Christmas Day to truly celebrate.
Want a truly good Christmas? Then have a good Advent!
In earnest, from the depths of my being …. I pray, O come, O come Emmanuel … please, please come to us O Lord anew …I need Emmanuel, God present … to come — to come to me — to come to us … to help us come to our senses.
To have a good Advent, I propose 3 R’s for these coming weeks —
First let us remember – let us remember that God really did come to earth, he came as one like us — and he never left. The day(s) are coming when he will fulfill his promise (Jer. 33:14-16) In fact, he comes everday … even this day — to fulfill his promise of making things new.
For too many people, remembering is about “chewing” over the past again and again and again … this can be an unhealthy remembering. It is a waste of time …. let us remember that when Jesus came, he came to redeem us and to redeem our past and THE PAST — he came to make things new …. if we really remember that, if we can start each day new without dragging yesterday’s worries into the next day — we can enjoy the life HE came to bring.
Let us remember that he wants to make all things new — he has promised it.
Second — let us resolve — let us resolve to start now …. not on January 1st … but let us resolve now, at the beginning of this new liturgical year, to be the person God called me to be. I resolve not to provoke others …. and when others try to provoke me, I will take the high road. Let me resolve when others want to drive me crazy, to “go to some calm place”, and maintain my balance. Heh, now is the time … today is the moment to enjoy the moment. Let us resolve to make Christmas a good Christmas …. even if I cannot give everyone the gift I want to give. Let us resolve to do our best — some things will get done, some things will not get done. There is NO MAGIC PICTURE OF WHAT CHRISTMAS IS SUPPOSE TO LOOK LIKE …. I will do my best each day … I resolve that!
Above all — I resolve to be “blameless in holiness.” (1 Thes. 3:12-4:2)
Thirdly — let this be a time to be renewed by God’s grace — salvation was initiated by God. God started this relationship that we celebrate … it is not about what I can do …. it is about what I am going to allow God to do to me …. when we pray, when we sing … Come, Emmanuel — we are asking him to take charge and to renew me in hope …. to renew me in courage … to renew a sense of calm that the world tries to take away from me and from us.
Jesus tells us that some people will die of fright …. when they see all that is happening. No doubt that is true …. a fragile peace between Israel and the Palestinian people — wondering what Iran is going to do …. getting tired of hearing about the Fiscal Cliff … these things can frighten us all to death …. but, when we remember that God has the whole world in his hand …..Look for Jesus, look for his message — be vigilant in these days. (Lk. 21:25-28, 34-36)
When we resolve to do what we can do and not worry about we cannot do …. and when we allow God to renew us …… then, the peace that God has promised Jerusalem will be ours …. even if those around us do not experience it …. we want to make sure we are living in that place …. and in that peace.
Decorate … shop … sing the tunes you want … have a good time with friends ….AND TAKE TIME, MAKE TIME … to cry out, to prepare, to get ready for a peace the world cannot give, and a peace that will come to all who are prepared to receive it. Let’s prepare to celebrate the spirit of Christmas by keeping the spirit of Advent.