Soon, we will be visiting with family and friends for Thanksgiving, and then we will return to Auburn, and Advent will be upon us. Advent is the season of waiting, expecting, and hoping, which prepares us for the celebration of Christmas. During Advent, we will get ready for Christmas.
Getting ready for Christmas is no easy task. Even before Thanksgiving, we are thinking about taking the picture for the annual Christmas card. We are making a list of gifts for everyone in the family. We are looking at price tags and creating a budget. Calendars are compared and coordinated, and we take a deep breadth before our sprint to the finish.
Advent reminds us of the different meanings of “getting ready.” We can “get ready” in an effort to be finished. We can get the lists made, gifts bought, and cards sent, or we can “get ready” by cultivating anticipation. One way of getting ready completes the job and ties a bow on it, while another way of getting ready opens us up to what is unfinished. Advent helps us get ready by opening us up to what is unfinished, as in the work of God, fostering anticipation and insight.
Our theme for Advent this year is “Anticipating the Stable.” Advent opens us up to discover what we find in the stable, which is a view of the world in need of hope, peace, joy, and love. It is an unfinished world, where we participate in what God is still doing. We are able to participate in Christmas.
By lighting a candle each Lord’s Day, we prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus. Each week, we are not closer to having everything done, rather, our anticipation is heightened, our insight is keener, and our prayers become wider. We begin by remembering Israel’s hope for a Messiah, by remembering our need for hope as well, and by welcoming Christ into this unfinished world, where the good news of mercy and justice will go to work.
During Advent, we will anticipate the stable, a place of ordinary life and a place of extraordinary grace, which is what we hope to find this Advent and Christmas. We hope to find the extraordinary grace of God at work in the ordinary events of life. Anticipating has a way of slowing time down, making us look deeper, and helping us to truly prepare for what is unexpected. We will get ready for the meaning of Christ, which we continue to rediscover again and again on this journey of faith.