The countdown to Christmas begins! But for Christians, this time is more than that—it is a time of preparation.
Isaiah is our anchor text for Advent worship in this new year of the Lectionary, year A. But Psalms gives us the mood, theme, or even soul. “I was glad when they said to me ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” The opening line from Psalm 122 captures something of the Advent spirit this year. From “I was glad” to “go to the house of the Lord.”
The season of Advent isn’t really designed to be a countdown to the celebration of Christmas. It is a time of preparation for Christ’s return and the establishment of the kingdom of God. It is a reminder that we are heading someplace; we are works in progress; we are longing for something more. That’s the upward call of Advent.
At the same time, we are indeed looking back. Yes, we are anticipating Incarnation, the time when God broke into our history and became present in an astonishing way. And we look forward to when Emmanuel—God with us—will be how we live always. We remember Christmas, the real depth and power of this singular act and the child who lived God’s presence among us, something that even the worst of the commercialism cannot ultimately overcome. We can grumble about how we’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas in this crass and cynical age, and perhaps we should. But we can also be surprised at how something pure and wonderful can appear in the most unlikely places, from the most unlikely sources to remind us that we are all longing for something more, something of eternity and of the beloved community described by the one whose birth we celebrate.
It is my prayer for each of you that the music, Holy Scripture, Holy Communion, prayers and homilies make this a meaningful Advent season.
Advent blessings to you all.