The season of Advent is upon us again and with Advent comes a season of reflection.
This year, I have been hearing reminders of how advent is a time to slow down and ponder the miracle surrounding the birth of Christ. A time to be still enough to be aware of God’s work in us and in our world. It is a time of waiting. It is a time of great expectation.
Of course there are so many distractions to keep us from being anything but calm and still.
Since early November, the pressure to come up with wonderful gifts for my kids within the limited budget is always a bit of a stresser for me. I am a gift giver. I enjoy showering my kids with presents they will delight in. It is a way for me to express my love for them. The fact that I know them well enough to find something they will be thrilled about is something I take delight in as well. But it is something on the list that needs to be done and I don’t have much free time without the kids to accomplish it.
Starting three week ago, planning family events and friend gatherings in and around everyone’s busy schedules has occupied a considerable amount of my time. I already have the stuffed turkey in the freezer ready for the Christmas day dinner. I’ve started planning a possible New Year’s party with friends. The calendar is filling up with much anticipated quality time with friends and family.
This past week, the decorations went up at our house. I have a rule that I wait until December 1st to put up decorations. The Christmas music is played, the tree is decorated, the lights are strung and plugged in.
On Wednesday, I took out a book at the library full of holiday treat recipes. Currently, I am in a state of great expectation for the glorious time in the kitchen I will have preparing delicious and visually stunning treats for the Christmas season.
I am getting ready. Ready to celebrate the birth of Christ.
But am I really getting ready to celebrate the birth? Or am I getting ready to entertain and impress? I know my mind is often filled with how I can impress with fancy foods and pretty place settings. I love to entertain and be hospitable (practicing hospitality is encouraged in the Bible!), but maybe my focus is getting a little off track.
Advent is a time to slow down and reflect. But I don’t feel like my mind is slowing one bit. In fact, it is racing a lot of time thinking about what needs to be done or planned next.
The distractions are real. It is Satan’s way of leading us in the wrong direction. To take our minds off of Christ’s miraculous birth and on meaningless things like toys and cookies.
It is ridiculous if you think about it. I can sit and think about how to decorate, bake and shop for hours but forget to reflect on God’s love for me.
I challenge myself this advent season to be still. To put away the cookbook, for now, and to wait in expectation for God’s promise to be fulfilled. To look around me, and not at my calendar, in order to see him at work.
And when I catch a glimpse of him, I know I will feel peace in my heart. My soul will sing in expectation of the coming of the Christ.
I will feel ready for the celebration.