What might it mean if Advent was different for you this year? If you started now to prepare for Advent so that Advent could actually be a season of preparation? You see, the season of Advent was meant to interrupt the pattern. The challenge is that all these centuries later, the interruption has become the pattern.
This means it will take a little more thoughtful preparation to make Advent more than another cycle of religious motions.
We’ve already talked about how the season of Advent as a golden opportunity to hit the reset button on life, the first step being to begin with the end in mind. John Lennon told us to imagine there’s no heaven. Jesus taught us to imagine the full splendor of Heaven breaking in on Earth.
And that brings us to this simple question: Given the kind of world God is refashioning, what kind of people does He want us to become?
So many people spend so much of their lives becoming someone other than who God imagined them to be when He created them in the first place.
Advent is the annual invitation to re-engage the Creator’s intent for your life; to enter afresh the process of becoming authentic again. Not religious or stuffy or prudish or boring, but holy. Holy — as in gloriously alive, super charged with the power of love. Holy — as in effortlessly exuding the irresistible goodness of God.
Isn’t that outstanding? In a culture of stress and consumerism, we can become a different kind of people and live with a different kind of intention. We can have a peace in the midst of chaos. As we stand in line at the mall, we can see our fellow shoppers through a totally different lens. And we can carry that different lens with us into 2017 — and on into the rest of our year and the rest of our lives.
It’s a challenge, to be sure. “On earth as it is in heaven” definitely takes some work, but it starts with recognizing the pattern of our lives and believing that God has something much, much bigger in mind.
If you’re ready to jump off the hamster wheel and begin the pursuit of Holy Love, join me in starting with Advent. In the first 25 days of December, I’m taking “Happy Holidays” to “Happy Holy Days” — and I’ve put together a little book to guide the journey. It’s called, as you know by now, Not Yet Christmas: It’s Time for Advent. Each day features a scripture verse, my short reflection, and a poem prayer composed by one of our group of gifted Christian poets.
One of the best things I did when my children were young was make in Advent wreath and faithfully go through the litany each Sunday before lunch. Since the Advent wreath appeared before any of the other trappings and was on the dinner table for every meal, the focus for my children became not opening presents on Christmas Day but who was going to light the unique big white candle in the center on Christmas morning. As a result, on Christmas morning they never balked at first sitting down to breakfast and lighting the Advent wreath. Now that they are adults and they cannot fathom Christmas morning without the Advent wreath!