On this the second Sunday of Advent we learn of how our preparation, or lack of preparation, for the coming of Jesus is reflected in our daily lives. Advent is a pretty special time for me. Today, 2 Advent, marks the first year of my ordination to the priesthood. My birthday is also during our Advent season. Growing up I always prepared myself for my birthday and Christmas, but as I matured the Advent season became even more important to me.
We must always remember that as we enter the busy Christmas season, it remains Advent inside the church. Outside, the decorative colors have been red and green since before Thanksgiving. Inside the church, the color of the Advent season is a deep and rich purple and we are preparing for the birth of Christ. We will hear hauntingly beautiful Advent hymns with the themes of getting ready, preparing, and waiting. Outside Christmas music is playing already, and at full blast everywhere you go. But that’s a very different mood from the Advent tone of quiet meditative worship. Out at the malls you are supposed to be preparing for Christmas by shopping. In the church you are supposed to be preparing spiritually so that when we celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve, God can really do something, because your heart will be ready. I’m not saying that the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation is awful. After all, I love Christmas and all the fun of preparing for it, from the cookies to the music. I even like doing a little Christmas shopping. But the key is to balance all that cultural Christmas hoopla with the quiet spirituality of Advent. This is why regular worship in this season is so vitally important. We need to be reminded that the real preparation for Christmas is not all about cooking, or shopping or wrapping gifts. The real preparation for Christmas is the challenge of Advent, about asking the hard questions of our spirits.
Is there someone you need to forgive? Is there someone you need to apologize to? Is God calling you into service or into a new work in his name? Is there someone you should invite to church in a season when many people are searching? Is there someone in your life who needs you to pray for them? What about your relationship with God? Are you the Christian you are called to be?
You don’t have to choose between Christmas and Advent. Just make sure you pay attention to both. This is what happens to us, not only when one becomes ordained, but also to all of us when we become Christians….As a priest I relate to Matthew 11:2 The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
I have no fear of the LORD, but understand that Advent calls us to fill our December days with – prayer, attention to the state of our souls, and acts of kindness, mercy and justice.
We say these things in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Pax et Bonum
Msgr Terry E Elkington OPoc