Now that our kids are grown up and I see others going through the motions, I marvel at how much there is to get ready for. Parents (and grand-parents) have a lot to keep track of and it doesn’t seem to be any less stressful or urgent just because your kids have grown up. We’re all getting ready for something on a year-round schedule.
In a few weeks, Advent will be here. Advent is the season for getting ready. Advent is the four week period, beginning on November 29th, leading to Christmas. During Advent we prepare our hearts and minds for the promised Messiah. We duplicate the church’s tradition of preparation for the birth of Jesus through ritual (the lighting of the Advent candles) and celebration (with festive decorations and singing Christmas carols) and reflection on the incarnation of Christ.
It’s easy during the Christmas season with all the preparations, all the hustle and bustle and getting ready, to lose sight of what Christmas means. Above all else, Christmas means God came among us. Pleased in flesh with us to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Jesus is: God with us. It’s not the candles, the carols, the rituals, the decorations, the family gatherings and traditions. As wonderful as those are they are incidental to realization that Jesus’ birth means God is with us. And because God is with us, all things are possible.
The great Presbyterian author Frederick Buechner wrote: Evil evolves. Holiness happens. He was writing about the meaning of incarnation, not because it can be proven through doctrine or tradition, but rather because it is so not like us. A different author, a New Testament author, put it this way: For mortals it is impossible but for God, all things are possible.
Christmas is our deepest hopes and dreams fulfilled in the birth of a baby. Buechner says that Christianity is primarily wishful thinking. That’s probably true. But if we allow it, our wishful thinking, our hustling and bustling, our getting ready, can be a moment of breakthrough, that opens our eyes to the wonder and reality of God among us. May it be so and thanks be to God.