It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Or could we say that everything is pure chaos? At least that’s what it feels like for many of us in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this festive season. There are parties and concerts and plays and presents and cookies and it’s enough to work ourselves into a Christmas tizzy. Christmas is still three weeks away and yet it already feels like it is tomorrow because it will be here before we know it.
There is always this odd conundrum this time of year because while the whole world seems to have lost its mind with Christmas cheer, the church is telling us to Wait! Watch! Get Ready! And no, it is not because your pastor wants to see how long you can last with delayed gratification. There is actually method to this madness, much in the same way we all make our children wait until Christmas morning to open most of their presents.
You see Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” It refers to not just the Christ-child’s arrival in Bethlehem, but also when Christ shall return and all of God’s promises will be fulfilled. During this season we pause to remind ourselves that there is more happening here than simply the opportunity for glutinous overspending and overeating and frenzy, as the nay-sayers would suggest. This is about a much bigger story and much more important things at stake.
Advent and Christmastide are proof that even in the most shadow-filled time of the year, when dusk comes early and night lasts so long, even then there are forces at work that bring life and light all around us. A world-wide conspiracy of love when we share what we can with our neighbors, some of whom we may not even notice the remainder of the year. We begin to see the world through heaven’s eyes as we remember that in every face there may not only be an angel in our midst, but perhaps even the Christ-child himself.
This season is about God’s expansive view of what family really means – a place for everyone at the table and a welcome no matter who you may be. That included smelly shepherds oft ignored by their community. That included remarkable men of science and faith who traveled from distant lands seeking that which they could barely name. That included a teenage mother and a bonus dad stepping up to help raise a child that was not his own. But that also can include you and me and everyone else who needs a home filled with love as the cold winds of this world howl around us.
So yes, do all of the fun and the crazy this season. Just don’t forget that in the midst of that you will often find that God comes to us in the unexpected ways. In the people who miraculously cross our paths. And in those moments when love wins even in the bleakest midwinter.
Blessings, Pastor Janie