It is the last day of the Christian Year today, and the beginning of the Christian Year begins tomorrow with Advent I, when we begin the season of expectation, of waiting for Christmas - for the coming of Jesus. The readings of the next four weeks will bring us into the heart of the prophetic vision from the Hebrew Scriptures of awaiting the Messiah and also the stories that preceded Jesus' Birth.
For us, this season of Advent is all to easily eclipsed by the rush to Christmas in the culture all around us. Where we live, if you don't buy your Christmas tree in the next week or so, there won't be any left, but if you buy it now, the needles may not last until Christmas. As a child, we would usually buy our Christmas tree just before Christmas, and we spent time in Advent lighting the four candles of the Advent Wreath. As a child, the waiting was, of course, for the gifts and magic of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, but the waiting did move us into a mindset of expectation of the "not yet" of waiting for Jesus' coming.
This mindset of expectation is one that we can cultivate as we move into the season of Advent. Considering the figures of Mary, as she lived in the tangible expectation of a child to be born, and the figure of John the Baptist who lived in tangible expectation for the Messiah who would baptize with fire, not with water. I wish you a "Happy New Years Eve" tonight and a blessed Advent, may you take the time to consider, ponder, and sit deeply in the mindset of expectation.