This month, the world celebrates the “Christmas Season” with it’s lights, delectable foods, shopping frenzies and holiday festivities. From the Hallmark Movies (which I watch) to the Holiday Parties, there’s much to do and many places to be.
Inside God’s Church, however, this month is not called the Christmas Season, but the Season of Advent. And how differently these coinciding seasons are celebrated!
In contrast to the holiday hubbub, the Advent Season is a time of darkness, quietness and an opportunity for reflection. During this time, we’re called to reconcile with God, prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming, and contemplate on the Bible’s account of the world before Jesus entered in.
The world doesn’t hold the same meaning for the word advent. The dictionary states advent means “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event”. Like, “the advent of television”. The Church, however, defines Advent in more precise terms. Advent is a four-week holy period of expectant waiting and preparation for the Nativity of Jesus’ birth, and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming.
Which season do you celebrate? My house is lit with Christmas lights (which are presently buried under snow), presents under the tree, and a puppy in a holiday sweater dying to tear into them. Which makes me wonder, are my actions matching what’s in my heart?
I hear so many people complaining that the holidays are stressful. The demands and pressure unrealistic. The expectations to perform and be happy too great. To top it off, each year it seems to get harder, they say.
But no one says that about the Advent Season. On the contrary, rather than great expectations, Advent is a simple invitation to “walk in the peace of Christ. To leave what you’re familiar with to encounter God’s perfect love.” What does that mean? Leaving behind what we’re familiar with …
I have a few ideas (that won’t ruin your Christmas cheer). Perhaps, it means turning down a couple social invitations to spend more time at church or with family. Maybe, it’s lifting the pressure of finding the “perfect gifts” and giving gifts of prayer and forgiveness. Or maybe you’re being invited to go deeper … Just rest assure by saying “yes” to the invitation of Advent, you’ll receive something far more magical and rewarding than any present under the tree. As Pastor Rev. Reinsersman said in Sunday’s homily, “We are blessed when we go out of our way for Jesus Christ.”
So let us pause now to pray for all those struggling this time of year. May the world find peace in the promises of Advent. And may you fulfill the true spirit of the Season. Could you be a light to someone’s darkness this Advent?
Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and hoping your light shines bright in the New Year!