Today is the first day of December. Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. I love Advent, while the whole world is rushing to put up Christmas decorations and sing the Christmas Carols I wait and relish the weeks of Advent.
That being said I know that Advent is a difficult season. The Scriptures can be so difficult to understand, and sometimes the message is downright ….. well hostile. And yet I love trying to preach from them. There is a real challenge in proclaiming from the pulpit that everyone listening is nothing but a brood of vipers and then declaring that it is good news.
The challenges of Advent and the real work of Advent is for us to stop and look at ourselves. What are our expectations? Are we prepared to meet the Christ that God is sending us? Are we willing to accept the gift from God, even if the gift is not what we had hoped for?
I am about to become a grandmother for the third time. We have been waiting these last three months for the ultrasound that would tell us if the baby was a girl or a boy. Since I already have 2 grandsons, I have been saying to my daughter, “as soon as you know, let me know, so that I can go out and buy the pink wool.”
Yesterday the phone rang and when I answered my oldest grandson chirped into my ear, “The baby is a boy.” Of course the baby is a boy, I already have two perfect grandsons, and now I have the trifecta….3 perfect grandsons…. So I am going to buy the blue wool and come up with yet another way to work it into a unique blanket, for a unique little boy that I am looking forward to meeting, and loving as much as I love his brothers.
Is there a part of me that still wishes it was a girl? I’d be lying if I said no. A girl would have been so nice. I have been looking longingly at those cute frilly girl clothes for the last two pregnancies. But now is the time to adjust my thinking and to rejoice in the knowledge that the gift of the baby boy is the perfect gift and that I will be as blessed by this beautiful boy as I have been by the other two.
There were those who would not recognize the baby as the gift from God.
There were those who would not recognize the servant as the King of Kings.
There were those who would not recognize the crucified one as the King of Salvation.
And to this day there are those who do not recognize the Risen Christ as the Son of God, given for us and for our salvation.
That is why Advent is so important. It is the time when we stop and reflect upon the nature of God and his unique gift of salvation. It is the time when we stop and reflect upon our own lives and the attitudes we have that prevent us from fully knowing the grace of God. Advent is a time of waiting and preparation and repentance.
We don’t just wait while we twiddle our thumbs. We wait actively, making sure that along the way we ask God to cleanse us and to prepare us. We wait hopefully, knowing that the coming gift from God is the perfect gift, born of perfect love. A baby, a servant, a body on a cross, an empty tomb….the perfect gift from God.
During the Advent Season I love the Advent Carols….today the one that keeps going through my head is All earth is waiting….
All earth is waiting to see the Promised One,
and open furrows await the seed of God.
All the world, bound and struggling seeks true liberty,
It cries out for justice and searches for the truth.
In lowly stable the Promised One appeared:
yet feel his presence throughout the earth today,
for he lives in all Christians and is with us now;
again with his coming he brings us liberty
The point of Advent is to prepare our hearts a home so that the Promised One of God will be all that we expect and want, and so that we will recognize him as the Perfect Gift from God, and welcome him to come and live in our hearts.
Take time this Advent to go to the desert and to listen for the word of God calling to you, to repent, to be cleansed and to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. Be an open furrow, prepared to receive the seed of God. May your advent prepare you for the joy of Christmas.