On Thanksgiving Day, full of turkey and dressing and sweet potato pie, Jeff and I piled into the car and drove to Charlotte, where we spent most of the weekend with our daughter and son-in-law. We did all of things most of you probably did – we gave our iPads a workout ordering gifts, we hit the local shopping center, and we ate wonderful food (that we didn’t have to cook!). Jennifer decorated their house with a Christmas tree and twinkling lights along the porch rail and a snowy village that my mother made years ago. We listened to Christmas music, we told stories, we relaxed – even though the calendar pointed out that we had only four weeks until Christmas Day.
All of our busy-ness created a sense of anticipation in me, an energy that was somehow different from how I had felt just days before. All of the gifts we had bought, all of the decorations that had been so carefully placed, all pointed to the joy of the real gift of Christmas. (read more)
In our sanctuary, the Christmas tree is joined by Joseph and Mary and an empty manger. One of our members told me that his child wanted to know where baby Jesus was. He told her it wasn’t time yet, that we have to wait. And that is what these days before Christmas are about – waiting. We wait for the coming of the tiny baby, and we wait for the return of the Christ.
An old professor of mine wrote, “Christmas, far from being yet another chore, is a gift that brings us together and showers us with love. What happens is a miracle, a time when, as [poet W.H.] Auden put it, ‘for once in our lives, everything became a You and nothing was an it.’”
Advent slows us down so that we will be paying attention when that miracle comes. “Advent keeps Christmas on Christmas Day: a fulfillment, a perfection and completion of what had gone before,” writes Joseph Bottum in his book The Christmas Plains.
Enjoy these waiting days. Settle into them, into Advent, and keep Christmas on Christmas Day.