Peace, surprise, and gifts.
Advent preparation should afford us a sense of peace. Much like the calm of knowing that you have finished getting your house ready for a guest, or that a task was completed well in advance of a deadline or that you were ready to leave for an event before you had intended to depart.
Usually, though, it doesn’t. We usually limp through to the end of Advent and exhaustedly celebrate Christmas. We do so much during these weeks. Parties. Shopping. Decorating. Wrapping. Cards. Events. Cooking. Cleaning. Worship.
Advent should provide us with an opportunity to reconnect to our deepest needs and focus on our most fundamental relationships. It should afford us with an equal amount of reflection and activity, prayer and service, much like Lent. We should approach the Incarnation refreshed, ready and excited. We should be at peace with our level of preparation when Christmas finally arrives. Peace should be ours. Jesus tells us, “Peace I leave to you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Let us accept it!
Many of our readings during Advent focus on not only the birth of Jesus but also the second coming of Christ - the end of times. Our preparation for Christ’s coming should also direct our efforts toward being prepared for the end of the world as well. Advent should be a time when we strive for peace within our relationships and within ourselves, knowing that we do not know the hour or the day when Christ will come again. We should be awake and stay vigilant, but in a way that is filled and overwhelmed by peace.
Peace He leaves to us; His peace He gives to us. During Advent, at Christmas and always. Let us accept it.
Let us also have the courage to be surprised. We undoubtedly think that doing more will somehow make us feel fulfilled and happy. We fear that scaling back on the gifts or cards or decorations or food or guests or events will somehow leave us empty. If anything, doing less will allow more room for Christ to come and enter our lives this Christmas. Start with worship. Think of the Magi and how they brought gifts, wise gifts, to the Christ child out of love, homage and an understanding of Christ’s future status. They didn’t come to Jesus expecting presents, but came to Him expecting to be amazed by His presence. The “Little Drummer Boy” from the famous song approaches the Lord afraid that he doesn’t have a gift to give to his Savior. It is then that he decides to offer the only thing that he has, all that he has, his gift of playing the drum. Mary nods. Jesus smiles. And it was good.
Slow down, focus on being a wise gift giver and be surprised by Jesus’s approval of your actions. Stay awake and present to noticing His message in the midst of all of our secular ones. Frosty doesn’t have a place at the Nativity. Avoid the snowball effect of getting so wrapped up in your to-do list and spend some time offering your gift to Jesus. Spend some time really connecting with family and friends.
Advent is a time of preparation. It is a time of excitement. It is a time of expectant hope. My you feel abundant peace as you journey through Advent. May you be surprised at the wonders of His love as you spend time in reflection.
Accept these gifts; accept Him.