The Church calendar gives us four weeks of preparation, called the season of Advent, before the celebration of Christmas. These weeks signify the years that the Jews waited for the Messiah, long anticipated by prophetic writings. These weeks serve to purify the demands of our everyday humdrum lives. These weeks point out the hope of tomorrow and the promise of the future.
Advent is a season of hope. With the trials that some of us are facing at this time, with the challenges that some of us are experiencing at this moment, and with the difficulties that some of us are battling here and now, there is hope.
Tomorrow will be better, according to the prophet Isaiah. Two conditions in Old Testament theology bracket the future that will be well and secure: when we seek God’s kingdom as our first priority and when we accept God as the highest authority.
If we fail to abide by these conditions, the darkness and anxiety of waiting is compounded and aggravated. Our society has kingdoms and gods in their lives other than Jesus, the Living God. Our society has authorities they believe in other than Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
The journey to Bethlehem begins when we stop denying the darkness that filters our lives. The path to the manger begins once we begin filling up the emptiness in us. The journey to God begins once we give up the things we hold dear, once we give out to persons we find insignificant, and once we give in to the God of all importance.
The reason for all these preparations during Advent points to no other than Jesus Himself.
Christmas can be a stressful experience for some of us when we lose Christ along the way. Jesus is the reason for the season. When there is no more reason for the season, the season is a reason no more. There is no need to substitute greeting politically correct people with Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.
Christmas can be a meaningless experience for many of us when truth is veiled and masked by material and commercial demands. As a little girl climbed onto Santa's lap, Santa asked the usual, "And what would you like for Christmas?" The child stared at him open mouthed and horrified for a minute, then gasped: "Didn't you get my E-mail?"
The truth remains unchanged that Santa Claus and his elves, Rudolph and all the reindeers do not occasion the giving of presents. Jesus is the gift and He is the Father's present. What God the Father did, we intend to follow.
Finally, Christmas can be pointless to a few when they find it to be just an obligatory passage of time. They would not have felt this way had they listened to the Gospel. They would not have found Christmas to be meaningless, pointless and stressful had they prepared themselves spiritually well.
To be awake, to be alert, and to be engaging are actions we have to take as we wait for Jesus. If we only let the Christ child be born in us, our world will never be the same. If we ever let the light of the manger shine through our hearts, our lives will radically change. And, if we ever let the life of God enter the brokenness of our darkened world, death becomes insignificant and senseless.
Jesus is coming. He will not leave us disappointed. He is our ultimate hope.
28 November 2010