A voice cries out: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)
Once upon a time a Grinch tried to steal Christmas. He plundered Whoville of all its packages, tinsels, trees, food, even the logs in the fireplace and crumbs for the mice. But Christmas morning the Grinch was stunned by joyous singing in Whoville. Christmas had come anyway. When I began to think about this Advent season, my first thought was that perhaps 2020 was the year that the Grinch really stole Christmas. But, my next thought was that perhaps, this year might be the one we reclaim it in renewed ways.
We often celebrate the birth of Jesus in a flurry of doing. Sometimes, I have greeted Christmas with a sigh of relief that everything got done in time. But this year is different for me, and I suspect it is for many of you – it is quieter and more reflective. The obligations and festivities are missing from our calendars. While I am missing much of the spirit of celebration, I am beginning to embrace a different kind of preparation for Christ’s coming.
At least once a day, I am stopping what I am doing to do something that brings another joy – it may be doing something special for your spouse, your kids, or yourself. This Advent season, I’m going to put my labor into creating moments of stillness instead of creating a new kind of noise. I’m going to go slowly as the world swirls around me. As much as I can, I’m going to take the time as a way to really connect with God more deeply and to connect with that circle of special people God has given me. I’m going to look for opportunities to give each and every day.
There is an old-world custom that decrees that all possible preparations for Christmas be completed by Saint Thomas Day, December 21. This allowed the final days before Christmas to be given to preparing the heart, mind, and spirit for receiving the Prince of Peace. I want to encourage each one to reclaim this as our new world custom, potentially making the days before Christmas a richer time of spiritual preparation. What would it mean to honor and serve God more intentionally during this Advent season?
It was in the quiet of the night that the word of God appeared.
It is only quiet minds that can be open to this wonder;
Only quiet hands that can serve him well;
Only quiet hearts that can offer him the love that is his due.
Those who know the burdens of sadness and hopelessness in this season
O God of this season, peace often resides in the most surprising places – in the half-hidden smile of a stranger behind a mask or in the twinkling lights shining in the darkest corners of our communities. Grant us the vision to offer random acts of kindness during this season of generosity. Thank you for all the ways your grace touches us when we least expect it. Grant us the desire to take the time to reconnect with you, trusting that the startling newness of Christ’s presence might be awakened in us again. Amen.