My wife, Signe (pronounced see-nuh), is a planner. It amazes me how disciplined she is at taking time to thoroughly prepare for things – whether it’s for an upcoming vacation, next week’s social plans, or how many tomatoes to buy for dinner Thursday night. Sometimes I don’t understand (Hun, remind me again why we need to start packing for our trip one week before we leave?). Most of the time, however, I’m a glad beneficiary of her forward-thinking ways (I’m so glad you made these peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwiches to bring onto the plane – I’m starving!). She’s a planner.
And then there’s me. I’m… well… it’s not that I don’t plan for things. (As a matter of fact, I spent this morning preparing for Sunday’s sermon.) Generally speaking, however – and Signe will confirm – I do not share her proclivity toward preparedness, at least not to the same degree. Part of me would like to think that such a difference between us could be seen as healthy, as balancing each other out. Someone in my position might even argue that not “worrying about the future” allows me to live more fully in the present. But let’s be honest – “I want to live more fully in the present” is often times code for “I just bought a one-way ticket to procrastination station.” And while planning and preparation is an area I feel I’ve made significant strides in over the past few years, this is still an area in which I have much to learn from my beloved. So what does this have to do with Advent? Much.
I never celebrated Advent growing up. In fact, I didn’t know what it was until college, and even then I didn’t take it too seriously. Advent is the part of the Christian calendar that leads up to Christmas, beginning four Sundays before Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve. It’s a season of anticipation, of preparation. The word itself comes from the Latin word, adventus, which means “coming.” The point of Advent is that we prepare for Jesus’ coming – both the celebration of his first coming (that’s Christmas) AND the promise of his second (when God will make all things right).
But why is the two-fold advent of Jesus something worth preparing our hearts and minds for? Well, it is through Jesus that God accomplished redemption for all who believe, is working reconciliation in the world today, and will eventually restore all creation back to himself. If you believe that, do you see why celebrating his first coming (again, Christmas) and anticipating his second coming (when God will finally put the world right) is something worth preparing ourselves for?
I want to learn from my wife this year. I want to prepare my mind and heart this Advent. But how? This is my question – for me and for you all. How do we prepare for such a seemingly abstract thing amidst a season riddled with the definite busyness, stress, distractions, and consumerism that characterize so much of this season? How do we stay Christ-centered amidst an increasingly Christ-less culture? (And, I’m sorry, but posting a “Let’s put Christ back in Christmas” message on facebook doesn’t count.)
In the following weeks, I’ll be continuing the discussion. But in the meantime, I’d love to hear some of your thoughts! Feel free to post below any comments or reflections.