Right now, everyone is so busy, and will be busier as Christmas approaches: shopping (maybe on line), card-writing, parties (only on Zoom, please!), cooking, baking and decorating their homes inside and out. I usually do not turn on my Christmas lights until the last few days just before Christmas, but they are up earlier this year than ever before—pushing that line between waiting for Christmas by living in the spirit of Advent. Although this year, I think the “line” between the two seasons is particularly difficult to manage. I know that we all need extra “cheer” as we live through this pandemic, the restrictions, post-election, you-name-it. The challenge for us Christians is that in understandably pushing Christmas to be “early,” we should reflect on Jesus’ birth and second coming—and not be sooo busy that we miss the point of the reason for this Advent season.
I understand that we need/want to prepare for Christmas early because our spirits have been languishing with all of the necessary covid restrictions, but we should try to wait and not be drawn entirely into the secular world of Christmas now. That is surely a challenge right now—because like the song says: “We need a little Christmas…” An example of waiting for Christmas could be like the bride who waits for her wedding, preparing and expectant, enjoying the details and plans, the decorations and “future” gifts—but not opening them or showing off her dress ahead of time—saving something for the actual wedding. We need to find the line between the now of Advent and the future joy of Christmas.
We are challenged by circumstance to try to wait for the actual arrival of Christmas, then look forward to celebrating outwardly the whole season of Christmas. I know we all need a little Christmas early this year, but I have to say I really dislike (pet-peeve) that there is 24-7 Christmas music being played on the radio even before Halloween! We need to be able to wait for something. Of course the music played on the radio early is always the commercial and secular stuff (Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer…). I wouldn’t mind as much hearing the great Christian Christmas carols by an orchestra and chorus that actually celebrate the sacred. I do confess that I watch Christmas movies (the oldies and goodies, mostly) during Thanksgiving weekend while I write my Christmas cards.
Today the Responsorial Psalm for this First Sunday of Advent is a petition to God to take tender care of us: “Lord make us turn to you and we shall be saved.” We also need to take tender care of each other. In this time of covid as the darkness of winter and circumstance spreads, the line we find is about turning to God now and always, early or later… And so we turn to Him, we await Him with hope and joy, we find time between Advent and Christmas is to prepare for His coming, and to wait in certainty for His arrival. Advent is the opportunity to seek that line of waiting and arrival, to try to listen carefully, to turn to God while preparing in joy for the “next.. St. Paul today reminds us that we will have everything we need (every spiritual gift) while we wait and prepare. That is a good thing to remember, a comfort for the next time we feel the frenetic need to have Christmas now. We are waiting, alert and awake as we watch and prepare for you, O God.
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: This is an album I love to listen to in preparation for Christmas—yes, an actual album played on a record player… I grew up listening to The Music of Christmas," by The Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Carmen Dragon. (Youtube) If you are looking for some early Christmas—I recommend this!