Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives.
Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery
that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
Slow down? Are you kidding? Don’t you realize Christmas is only 3 weeks away?! There’s shopping to do, gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, parties to prepare, programs to attend…..so much to do and so little time! The maddening rush seemingly crushing our holiday spirit.
Do you remember this time of year as a child? A time when the wonder of the season could be seen in our eyes? A time when there was a sense of mystery, excitement and anticipation in the air?
And then we grew up. We succumbed to the chaotic busyness of the season. Gone is the childlike wonder and excitement; the anticipation is replaced with deadlines and the fear of not providing the *perfect* Christmas experience for our family.
Which is the reason behind Advent. For Christians, Advent is the time when we (are supposed to) pause and reflect in quiet anticipation of the miracle that happened in Bethlehem…and what that means to our weary world.
And before we digress into the fact that Jesus was probably not actually born on December 25th, I just want to say….I know. Christmas in late December is a man-made holiday dating back to early fourth century Rome when Christians selected this time to coincide with the pagan winter solstice festivals. Ulterior motives aside, it actually is THE perfect time of year for such a celebration.
For many people, the end of December is when the days are the shortest, darkest and coldest. Gone are the glorious colors of spring, summer and fall…replaced with the stark emptiness of winter. And just as fire warms and brings light to the cold, dark days of winter, the powers of darkness were forever conquered by the seemingly common, ordinary occurrence of a baby’s birth 2,000+ years ago. A birth to an ordinary woman in an ordinary town…but under extraordinary circumstances.
Because with that birth, everything changed. With that birth, God the Son became incarnate and entered into the closest kind of relationship possible with his creation. Entering this world in the usual way, God’s Son experienced every emotional high and low known to mankind. He experienced hands-on knowledge of joy and happiness along with the devastation of sorrow, pain, fear and…ultimately….death. And because of this, his intimate relationship with creation continues to live to this day in the hearts of believers worldwide.
At the time of the year when everything is the darkest and blackest, Christians remember the coming of the light that dispels the darkness of life and brings peace. Advent does not replace all the chaotic busyness of our lives, but it is capable of instilling the wonder of Christmas back into our souls…if we will only take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.