Some people cringe at the notion of December being treated as merely a collection of shopping days. Although kids love those light-up lawn ornaments that count down the days until Christmas. And before you get too cynical, pause for a moment and maybe consider the enchantment of seeing a child quiver with excitement as he or she anticipates Christmas Day.
Kids actually have the right idea. Their anticipation grasps at a thread unraveled from a garment of hope. On what kids should focus their lens of hope may require some parental guidance. But their enthusiasm is to be emulated, not squelched.
I am not advocating over the top consumerism or teaching kids that Christmas is all about the gifts. But the days of December do brim with a certain anticipation. A longing for fulfillment. To celebrate the arrival of that which brings true joy and will at last ease our anxiety, pain and brokenness.
The name for this season of waiting is called Advent. It is quite literally a time of preparing for a great celebration.
Beginning yesterday, December 1, and running through December 24, we wait. But not just for an Xbox One or for the booze to kick in to provide enough liquid motivation to stage some elf on the shelf high jinks.
We wait for peace, for joy, for restoration of this whacked out world and its relationship to the creator. We prepare to celebrate a birth that changed the course of history. We also wait, prepare for, long for, the completion of what that birth set in motion. His return.
So go ahead and shop. Put up the tree and wrap the gifts. But consider adding an Advent wreath or Advent calendar to your December days – something tangible to help you focus on what it is you’re truly waiting for. Get the kids involved in special moments that mark the days until the BIG DAY. Read Advent devotions and say Advent prayers at dinnertime, at bedtime, or while you wait in line at Wal-Mart. Especially while you’re in line at Wal-Mart. Ask God to remind us what we truly wait for so that we might brim with the genuine anticipation of a giggling child at Christmastime.
Look up. Open up. Get excited. Get prepared. Advent is here. And a gift most worthy of waiting for has come and is coming again.