Have you ever seen the bumper sticker that says, “Christ is coming soon — look busy!” In this area, most of us don’t have any trouble looking busy, much less keeping busy. Advent season, among other things, is about waiting, and in our microwave culture, we have a hard time with that.
I do love Christmas trees, advent wreaths, and advent calendars. One of my favorite family traditions in Advent is the sign my wife puts out in our Family Room. It reads, “Slow down. Quiet. It’s Advent!” That is so counter-cultural! It’s so easy to get caught up in the “Christmas Machine,” with its endless opportunities and demands. Why might it be a good idea to slow down in Advent, when the world is speeding up all around us?
We live between the first Advent, or coming of Christ, and his second Advent, at the end of the world as we know it. The church sets aside Advent as a short season of preparation and waiting, of longing – not so much for Christmas season, but more so for the redemption of all things. What are you waiting and preparing for this December? Try placing your focus on the Lord Jesus’s soon return this Advent, rather than on gifts, greens and grinches. Advent is traditionally a time of self-examination and repentance, as we study the teachings of John the Baptist and remember the run-up to Jesus’ first coming. From the crucible of repentance emerges God’s forgiveness, which enables our joy. You and I can enter more fully into the Advent season by taking time to identify the things that keep us from loving of God and loving people. Then we can enter into the quiet calm of a clear conscience, and reconciled relationships.
A wise man once suggested that early in Advent season each year, we take a piece of paper and write at the top something like this: “Powers, Thoughts and Behaviors that Hinder my Walk with God.” Then list everything you can think of, from which you would like to be set free. It may be a bad habit, an unhealthy relationship, or a job that is unrewarding. It may be a vice such as anger, lust, or dishonesty. It can be anything that prevents you from living in the Christmas spirit of love, joy, and peace. Whatever it may be, confess your part of sin in it, and commit it to the only one who sets prisoners free forever – the Lord Jesus, who died for your sins. God will take your sins and problems up into himself. Receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing, so you can know true freedom. Wait with hope, confident that God is near.
Our Immanuel is coming soon. +