Advent is the beautiful season of getting ready. Every year at this time the preparations begin. Lists and trips and evening obligations fill the days leading up to Christmas. Growing up in a Christian home, I’ve always known that Chistmas means more than the stuff of the secular celebration, but I still hurry around checking off a to-do list like the rest of the world. I know that when we “get ready” during Advent we are preparing in a way that is far more significant than finding the right gift, the perfect poinsettia, or an unforgettable dessert recipe for the big day, but I get caught up in the hunt! The Advent, this waiting, is even bigger than the best Advent calendar, the most stirring devotional booklet, and the sweetest rendition of “Silent Night.” These are good things, meaningful things, but I often see Advent and Christmas pass without the encounter that I want and need.
This year is different. Yes, we’re getting ready in practical ways for the upcoming celebrations. Gifts are being planned and purchased, eventually wrapped. Travel plans are being made, maps selected, reservations obtained. Our celebration of Advent–a season that I love for its opportunity to tell and retell the most glorious story of all–is necessarily pared down. We are just starting to unearth cookie sheets, special ornaments, and other pieces of our Christmas stash from dusty boxes. There won’t be much time for baking and gift-making as we stumble through new routines in a brand-new-to-us house.
But this sense of difference is more than the fact that so many of our belongings will stay in boxes until well into the winter months. This year, more than ever before, I have a sense of expectancy, a readiness to encounter the living Christ in a profound, yet quiet way. My soul is in need of the deep Peace that He represents. My insides have been tossed like a little ship on a stormy sea, and I am so longing to return to familiar waters where I can settle my heart and mind in the assurance of God’s love and His promises. Aside from the fact that we have to drive about 1000 miles to celebrate with our families, this Christmas season is going to be exactly what I need it to be: simple. I don’t have time to be engrossed in many of the traditional activities, and this year, that’s just fine.