Vicar’s Message December 2021
After I write this, I need to finalize my grocery list for Thanksgiving. I will try to write to you all something prolific about an incarnate God who comes in a manger. Then I will resume my inventory of pumpkin and evaporated milk, to ensure I have the correct ratio come next Thursday. Needless to say, it is a mighty strange thing to be writing with Advent, Christmas, and the passage of yet another year in mind. So much will happen in the next six weeks – no wonder it will all feel like a blur when it is said and done.
Yes, there is the whole predictable sentiment of slowing down to appreciate the real reason for the season. Sure, go ahead and prepare – your home, your heart, or whatever else you visualize preparing for Christmas. Talking about Advent as a season of preparation feels redundant when it seems like that is all anyone will be doing for the rest of the year, until we all finally get to January 2nd, as if in a post-holiday stupor. Time is funny like that. Liturgical time, or considering the seasons of how we move through the year with the guidance of scripture, of course begs something else of us.
The kind of preparing that we do in Advent is unlike the kind of preparing we do for Christmas, well the secular side of Christmas. There are no packages to be wrapped or greens to be hung in our relationship with God. No grocery lists to be finalized or parties to plan. Rather we spend the season preparing to receive Christ into our hearts. We anticipate a love to surround us that knows no bounds. We expect Jesus to come to us.
That’s right – we can expect Jesus to show up within us. Maybe placing an expectation on any divinity feels out of line. But that is precisely what this season is about. Advent is its own season for a reason, not merely for the preparation of Christmas. It is a season in which we can exercise our expectation of God to show up. Try it sometime – at home, at the store, in your car. Take a second for a deep breath and anticipate God, expect the love of Christ to come. See what happens.
Advent is not a linear season of time and preparation. Advent is a season to practice turning to God through expectation and anticipation, recognizing that God is persistently and consistently coming to us. In this way, Advent helps us practice for the rest of the year when we might expect God to show up. More than a polite invitation, anticipation and expectation demonstrate a faith that God is indeed coming.
You can go ahead and prepare for the journey to Bethlehem, prepare for the shepherds and angels and barnyard animals. But our relationship with God never has a destination. Instead, this Advent, anticipate the love of Christ right now. Expect God is coming right now. You may just find Christmas all the time.