Advent is here and I’m excited about it. I find the music and messages of this season to be meaningful, centering, and a good foil for the trappings of our commerce-centric society. In particular, this year I’m thinking a lot about preparations.
We often think of Advent as a time for preparation, and it is. While we are preparing to welcome Christ as a baby in the manger with gifts and worship, we are also taught to prepare our hearts for the Lord’s arrival.. We prepare to be amazed that God would become flesh and dwell among us, going through the same ups and downs of life that we go through. We are preparing for the message that Emmanuel, God with us, is truly with us and not in a cloud far away watching creation unfold.
Advent, though, is also about the changing of the whole world. It is the way of the world that the old must give way for the new to take its place. We see our leaders turn over, we see programs and maybe ministries coming to a close and others being reborn. This continual cycle of life, death, and rebirth is central to our beliefs as Christians. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Past. Present. Future.
Right now we might be feeling like the last year and a half has been one big preparation. After coming to a screeching halt, we may feel that ever since then we have been building to this moment. To be certain this preparation hasn’t been easy. We’ve shed tears, expressed frustration, endured suffering, and even had moments of pure joy. Walking through this pandemic together has shown us that worship takes place in our hearts and that, despite our ability or inability to gather together, God continues to walk with us and with our community.
Perhaps the lesson here is that all of life is really a preparation. All of life is a rehearsal for that next life when all will be made right. We are called to walk with one another in good and bad times. While the last year and a half may have been more challenging than the year and a half before that, our call remains the same: to accompanying one another on our pilgrimage through this life, to share the love of Christ that sets us free to serve our neighbors, and to praise the creator of the universe with all that we are.
As we prepare this season, whether it be preparations for family gatherings, for church events, or for personal study, let us remember that we are truly an Advent people. We are always preparing for that moment when Christ will break into our lives and make the world whole. Though the work of preparation is never finished, we may rest securely knowing that God is with us every step of the way, no matter what season we may be in.