Did you start decorating back around Thanksgiving? Did you start your Christmas shopping a little earlier than usual? Did you or your family need a little cheering up? With all that is going on in the world and in our lives, who doesn’t need a little Christmas cheer? Do you wish we could just skip the next few weeks and start Christmas early this year?
Christmas is a celebration of God entering the human predicament. Christmas is all about incarnation, the divine taking on human flesh. Of course, God has always been involved with humanity, but at Christmas time we celebrate it, we sing about it, we remind each other about God’s grace by giving and receiving presents. And it all happened as it says in Colossians, “in the fullness of time.”
When God took on human form it was at a time and place that was fraught with political and socio-religious conflict. The Promised Land was occupied by an empire that dealt harshly with any sort of defiance. Judaism was trying to hold onto traditions and temple-based worship as the world was changing around it. Rome’s stranglehold on the economy forced many into poverty and moved families off their ancestral land. It was a difficult time, to say the least. And yet, that is exactly where God showed up, in a manger. It was at just the right time.
God not only entered a body, but the eternal God also entered time. It was at just the right time.
But sometimes it takes a while before we see or can realize what God is up to. Sometimes we feel God’s absence more than we feel God’s presence and it’s difficult to understand what God was doing in our lives or in the world. That is why the season of Advent is the perfect preface to the all the celebrating of the Christmas season.
During Advent we use words like, prepare, hope and expectation, waiting and watching. This year is like no other, though. I don’t know about you, but as I observe the season of Advent, the tree will already be up, many presents already bought and wrap, lights strung, songs playing. Maybe we have already had nine months of Advent. But wait! Don’t skip over Advent. Pay attention. Take your Advent calendars seriously and take one day at a time. Don’t wish away any time. God can use time, too.
Happy Advent and Merry Christmas