It was the day after Thanksgiving, and the traditional start to the Christmas season, but I didn’t feel like Christmas. The thought of the mess, shopping, wrapping, and decorating felt like a heavy list of tasks around my neck, and for the first time ever, I entertained thoughts like:
Who needs presents, anyway?
No one wants that Christmas candy I make every year.
Maybe we don’t need to put up a tree.
That last one I said out loud, and my daughter gasped. “Really? No tree!” And I didn’t mean it, probably. Of course we’ll put up a tree. I’m no Grinch, I just don’t feel particularly jolly these days and I’m not excited for the chaos of what this season can bring. What I long for today is peace, joy, and hope. Thankfully, these are not states of mind relegated to Santa and Christmas Day, and all the stuff-to-do. Really, they’re about Advent and Jesus and the expectation of light brought to darkness. I don’t want clutter, but I need calm. I need trust that the current twists and turns of my life will end well, and soon. I’m like the Israelites in the desert, lost and wandering. I need a shepherd. I need the crooked ways made straight and the rough places made plain. I need God to come back and make it all right again, as we are promised He will do in all of those Advent readings we’ll hear at church. God, I need a savior.
So I’m ditching the ‘Jingle Bells’ in favor of Handel’s ‘Messiah’. I’m putting my energy into hope, which is not the same as celebration, but I’m aiming toward that too. God is faithful, and He’s on the move, certainly. We will see things come to pass that have been in process all along. That’s what Advent is all about, really. The word itself means ‘coming’, and I have to believe that light and help is on its way.
When Jesus came to Earth to be born as a human baby, He broke into time itself. God who is timeless suddenly dropped into the rhythms of the day and the seasons. He even ultimately changed the whole calendar itself. But in the smallest way, Jesus would have gained some understanding of how people wait, how they hold on, day after day, for something to change, for salvation, for rescue. He would have seen how hard it can be. His heart would have turned in mercy for His people. I have to hope that He sees us, even now, and that He is moved in compassion to act. The time matters, the seasons mark us, and I’m counting on Him.
So, no, I don’t feel like Christmas, not today. And maybe that’s fine, because it’s not time for Christmas. It’s time for Advent. It’s a time for expectation, hope, and light breaking through darkness in our time. And all I can say is, amen, amen, amen.