I have to confess that Advent is my favorite season of the Christian year. Even more than Christmas or Easter, I look forward to Advent. At this point you may be asking yourself what I could possibly love so much about Advent. After all this is a stressful and difficult season for most of us as family, cultural and spiritual expectations combine to make it seem as if there is a mountain of tasks to be completed, a wave of expectations to meet and not enough time to accomplish everything in. I’ll admit that I’m as prone to this feeling as anyone else is.
Even in the church we talk about Advent as a season of preparation, giving the perception that in addition to all of the other commitments we have, we’re somehow supposed to make time for a giant spiritual to-do list if we’re are to have a proper Christmas.
I wonder if there’s a more helpful way to think of Advent and its spiritual meaning. Advent is a season of preparation, but sometimes preparation means letting go of or getting rid of things. Traditions and rituals are precious things but sometimes the best thing is to let them go.
Perhaps its time to create a new tradition that is better suited to your life now. For example, in my own life, putting up the Christmas tree has become optional. Some years it goes up and gets decorated, some years I don’t have the time, or the energy and it doesn’t. Instead, every year I set out my Advent wreath and my Nativity Scenes (at this point I have three) and hang little decorations around my apartment. It takes less time and energy and my home still looks festive and special. As new tradition in my life it’s working well.
Included with this Epistle are some resources from the United Church to help you connect with God this Advent. It includes three different prayer resources, and an Advent Calendar with a question to reflect on each day. It is my hope that you will find them helpful as you journey through Advent.
I hope that as you experience Advent this year, you’ll be able to let go of those things that no longer serve you and create new traditions that help you to wait more fully for the birth of Christ. I hope that you’ll have time to experience the holiness of quiet waiting, of sitting with the anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise on Christmas Day and that you will find yourself blessed as you do so.