What’s this Advent thing we hear people talking about? Advent literally means ‘coming’ and in this case, it is the season of preparing for the coming of Jesus. But, what does that REALLY mean?
Sometimes the idea of preparing for the coming of Christ really excites me. Other times it isn’t as easy. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas…every ounce of it, good and bad. But sometimes, it feels heavy. The idea of preparing for the coming of guests, gifts, recipes, trees, ornaments, crowds, deficit bank accounts…you get the idea.
Personally, I am looking at a couple of weeks ahead of me that involve a whole lot of paper writing to finish up this semester of seminary instead of hanging ornaments on a tree. I am reeling with emotions because my son’s birthday landed on Thanksgiving this year, and being at somebody else’s house made it very difficult for me to follow through with some of the cherished birthday traditions we have when we’re at home. Of course, mom guilt kicked in. Plus, my dad, who battles mental illness, had a horrible, emotional episode this weekend and it kicked my butt dealing with it. I’m sure you can rattle off your own laundry list of junk that has been handed to you too. That’s the one thing about having struggles…we know we aren’t on an island completely alone. People all around us are fighting their own mini-wars each day, which brings an odd sense of comfort to us.
So, where is the preparing for the coming of Jesus when we are sifting through the crap of life in the here and now? How do I find the joy, joy, joy down in my heart when I feel like I am clawing through each day barely finding enough oxygen to fill my lungs to give me the strength to face tomorrow? (totally dramatic, yeah, I get it)
I guess for me, it is in that preparation for the coming of Christ. See, here’s a little secret, Christ is already here! Christ dwells within the heart of each of His children…that’s you and me! So, every morning when I begin my day, I am preparing for Christ’s coming. When I step out into the day and feel the breeze on my cheek, Jesus is saying hello. When I hold the door for the mom who is juggling too many bags and one too many kiddos, I’m getting my Jesus on. When I calm the fears of my friend who is going to chemo for the first time, there is Christ. When I pray for the person who is making me crazy instead of flying off the handle, there’s Jesus again! Hmm…each and every day when I show Christ to another person, when I share the transforming love of Jesus with someone who may or may not deserve it…it is there that I am keeping the ‘Christ’ in Christmas and I am preparing for the coming of the Messiah, Emmanuel. It is in the focusing on the problem solver instead of the problems of my life that I feel the real gift of the season.
My wish for you this Advent is that you find peace in remembering that the gift of the season already dwells in your heart and He will be with you through every challenge you face and joy will be your experience this season.