For a couple Christmases in a row, my mother and I would serve at the Community Christmas dinner in my hometown. My mother would always try to get me to wear some sort of goofy Christmas apron, which I would, of course, refuse to wear. We would find ourselves stationed behind some food (I think one year I served squash, which is not my cup of tea) and serve people. Those few hours on Christmas are some of my favorite memories of Christmas. It was not really the presents I had opened in the morning, but it was the time that I got to spent with my mother while serving other people. I don’t know what it was, but there is something about coming together as a community that shows that there is so much to celebrate about life.
Advent is really about celebrating life. Even with all the death of nature that surrounds us, there is this hope, a light shiny humbly in a manager. It is this reminder of life that has come for each and every one of us.
“Advent helps us keep looking ahead to the birth of the one who will go to the cross and then emerge from the tomb to resurrect us and this world to a newness of life.” –Robert E. Webber, The New Worship Awakening
I know, you don’t need to tell me that winter does not remind us of life. That is why we have spring, so after we have survived the harsh winter, we can celebrate. But I think if we wait until the green grass peeks out from under the snow to celebrate life, we are missing the point of Advent. Advent makes me aware how much I need life, how much I need God to break through in my life.
“Advent should be a time of waiting, a time of preparing for God to break into our lives with transforming power.” –Robert E. Webber, The New Worship Awakening
I think Advent is really about something else, too. It is about comfort. I go to a Christian university. I have chapel three times a week, and I usually go twice a week. (How can you really blame me? The third time is at 7:30 on Wednesday mornings, and even if I wasn’t already at work by that time, it would still not be something I would wake up for.) It is not a struggle to spend time thinking about God, because my professors pray before we start class. I mean, I am assigned to do devotions for my classes. I do not need to put in all that much effort to spend time with God, it is my grade.
More than that, I live in America. I have not once ever had to worry what I would eat for a meal. Sure, there are times when all I eat for lunch is coffee and malted milk balls, but that’s not because I am poor (you don’t need to tell me—I know it is because I am lazy). My point is that I really forget that I am blessed with comfort. I am so comfortable that it is almost like I get to the point where I forget just how much I desperately need God. It would be easy to read Robert Webber’s words and point fingers, but I am guilty of it, too.
“Advent means ‘God comes,’ but some Christians do not even feel the need for God. Their lives are ‘together.’ They do not face sickness, hunger, oppression, or loss. All is going well—or at least seems to be. These people have become desensitized to their own situation and to the pains and struggles of most people in the world.” –Robert E. Webber, The New Worship Awakening
It is through Advent that we realize winter is not really about death at all. It is about dormancy.
“Much of it has gone underground, into hibernation, awaiting a season of renewal and rebirth. So winter invites us to name whatever feels dead in us, to wonder whether it might in fact be dormant.” –Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
Advent is when I can get so cozy under a blanket with some hot chocolate that I forget that Advent is not just about sitting around waiting, but getting to work. It is about living out the mission of God through service, through loving other people. I have always believed very strongly that love is not a word so much as it is an action.
God broke in the second Mary became pregnant. God is continuing to break into our lives, saying, “You are not dead. I have brought you life. Don’t waste it, go live it.”
“Advent is a time when the church, through the themes of the season, can help these Christians get in touch with a sense of the very real need in their own lives—and in the life of the world—for an in-breaking of God.” –Robert E. Webber, The New Worship Awakening