Emmanuel Way Newsletter Article
The Rev. Peter M. Carey
An early Advent?
With the Christmas decorations already in many stores and the commercial aspects of the holiday season getting into full swing even before Thanksgiving occurs, I wonder what happens to Advent in the mix of all this commercial chaos? And so, here in the month of November, I am going to write a bit about Advent.
My proposal is that we should really begin to focus on Advent before the “official” time that Advent begins so that we might gain some of the spiritual benefits of this rich and deep season before we are consumed by the commercialization of the season. I have read that in medieval times, Advent was actually practiced for 7 weeks or more, instead of the four weeks that we now have for the season, so this effort is not without precedent.
Advent is a time of expectation, and a time of going deep within one’s self as we each prepare a place for God in our hearts and in our lives. Just as we might imagine Mary and Joseph preparing a place for a baby in their own busy and chaotic lives, we also might find ways to prepare a place for Christ in our lives today. Of course, God is with us, and Christ abides with us and in us at all times. However, doing some clearing away some of the spiritual clutter of our lives may, in fact, provide room for Christ to enter in anew this year.
What are some tangible things that we can do? One is to take a look around your house and see if there are a few areas where you can open up space. Perhaps there is a pile of books next to your comfy chair which are nice to have there, but books that you haven’t yet read, and books that don’t need to be there. Perhaps putting the books away in order to leave open some space can be an outward and visible sign of what we are also striving to do in our hearts.
What about if you have children and there is a plethora of toys scattered in their rooms, or in a playroom. Perhaps in this time we could choose to put away some of the toys, to put them in a box for a time, in the attic or basement, so that some room is made clear. Perhaps we could even have a conversation with our kids about “preparing a place” for Jesus just as the animals in the stable might have done.
And what about our daily calendar, what about our many appointments and to do lists, what about our time that we spend online which is mere filler time, what about the time that we turn on the television and have it on in the background, just filling up the airwaves of our homes? Could we move a few things off of our calendars? Could we put off one or two items until January? Could we turn off the constant banter on the radio or television?
Jesus said repeatedly, let those with eyes see, let those with ears, hear. Sometimes, I think that the reason some of us don’t recognize God’s presence, and God’s voice in our lives is that we pollute our vision and our hearing with a cacophony of sights and sounds.
How might you “prepare a home” for Christ in our midst? How might you, like Mary, “ponder these things” in your heart? I encourage you, even in this (somewhat) early month of November to begin to “practice Advent” in your lives. Practicing Advent living may offer up deep spiritual benefits and help us to recognize Christ in this season of expectation and preparation.
(Early) Advent Blessings!