Life ramps up around this time of year. There’s Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations, gift shopping, a family birthday and a party, school Christmas parties and events, Christmas plans, more gift getting, and Christmas services. It has the potential to be a season of manic hype, manic fun and pressure, but over the years adopting Advent as a holy habit (a spiritual discipline) has given me a chance to engage with the gritty reality of the season. I think of God leaving the splendor of heaven, becoming a baby in a broken, weary world. I think of Jesus coming again, making all things new. I think of the moment we’re in, living in the in-between. The tensions and the escalating fears, the injustice and disparity in our culture every day. Or the people walking in deep grief and loneliness at a time when we’re supposed to be really happy and excited about Christmas and the future. I think of the pressure people feel, to shop and buy a better existence – a happier family, a stronger relationship, a whole new identity. The pressure to buy things that represent a quality of life that can’t be bought. I think of the moment I am in, living in the in-between. Just everyday life, marriage, family, work, stuff. I feel a combination of thanksgiving, and a yearning for more. Every part of my life is aware that I need Immanuel – God with us. Every part of me knows I rely on a Savior who makes all things new. So yes. I am grateful for Advent. Yes I am digging in. I’m grabbing opportunities to pray, but mainly to watch and listen to what God may be saying to every area of my life. I’m drawing closer to my people, talking with them more, being with them more. I’m not having an ascetic holiday season, fun and celebration is spiritual after all, but I’m seeking to avoid the crazy over indulgences that often accompany this season. You know, the overeating and overspending and overdoing it and trying too hard to have the picture perfect Christmas. I find when I buy into all of that it leaves me with a headache, a few unwanted pounds and an empty wallet in January. I want to make space in my life for a different kind of more. Someone more.
Our church’s theme for Advent is What’s In A Name? – exploring some of the names of Jesus. In Biblical times (and in many cultures today) a name was significant, it gave identity, and spoke of a persons potential, personality and purpose. In exploring Jesus’ names again we’re reminding ourselves of who He is, what He is like, what He’s done and what it means for our lives. And we are welcoming the Name about all names into our lives again. Inviting every part of Him to make every part of our lives new. I can’t wait to meet Him all over again.
What does Advent mean to you?