The Four Weeks of Advent
I’m a prepper but not in the Y2K sense of the word. I prepare for Sunday morning church by laying out my family’s clothes on Saturday night. Each of us practices different levels of prepping. You may be prepping for a vacation, an important presentation, a family gathering, a wedding, a baby, heaven-forbid a hurricane, or even for some the horror of an apocalypse. As mom/grandma to the Trent Tribe, a central part of my role, as well as a great joy, is to PREPARE for Christmas. Indeed, my mission is to make sure that there are gifts under the tree, a turkey and/or ham on the table. You see, the magic of Christmas isn’t magic. It is preparation.
Thanksgiving weekend is our signal to begin, to prepare for what is coming. There is so much to do. We shop, wrap, decorate, cook, attend functions, string lights, decorate the tree, visit family and friends, make time to watch Christmas movies, and open gifts. Blissful preparation can become exhausting work and even detract from the most wonderful gift of the universe – God’s gift of love to us.
I was blessed to grow up learning about the season of Advent (the four Sundays leading up to Christmas) from Ms. Eileen Kennedy. In her sweet 80-year-old voice, she would give the Advent devotion and light the weekly candle. She would also lay black marks with her old yellow car in the church parking lot. We all knew to get out of the way when we saw her yellow car coming but Ms. Eileen sure loved Advent. She taught us to anticipate Jesus’ coming, not because we needed something additional in our overfilled lives, but because we needed something else altogether. We needed something divine and eternal.
Advent is a way to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth — light has come into darkness and, as the Gospel of John says, “the darkness could not overcome it.” Advent offers for us peace and confidence that good news is coming. We can celebrate, even when — perhaps especially when — it has been a hard year.
This year, November 27th marks the first Sunday of Advent. In this season of preparation and expectation of celebrating the Nativity of our Lord, may we “prepare the way of the Lord” in our own lives. It is a season that leads us to a deep joy that excites and cheers us. We get to experience the love implicit in the gift of the Christ Child: Emmanuel, God with Us. Best of all, it requires no work, no striving, no labor, no anxiety, just the openness to accept God’s perfect gift.
Advent Prayer: “Dear God, in the coming days as we celebrate the birth of your Son, help us to remember that your gift requires nothing of us but to open our hearts and minds to the truest gift of your love.” Amen.