Do you ever refuse to start something if you can’t start it from the very beginning? I’m like that in a lot of ways, and that list used to include Advent.
I’d think about it about halfway through the season every year and set it aside. The liturgical element didn’t seem complete without the fullness of all the days leading up to Christmas. I figured I would try to get it next year.
And then the next year.
And the next.
And the next…
Finally, the year I looked at my calendar in time and stepped into the season with an aim toward intention, thoughtfulness, and slowing, I realized what I missed out on for all those years. The fullness of Advent can be found in even a few days.
Ann Voskamp writes in The Greatest Gift (my favorite Advent devotional),
“If, just for a moment, you stand in the doorway, linger a bit in front of the tree, it’s strange how you can see it – how every Christmas tree is a ladder and Jesus is your ladder who hung on that Tree…so you can have the gift of rest. When you are wrung out, that is the sign you’ve been reaching for the rungs. The work at the very heart of salvation is the work of the very heart of Christmas: simply rest.”
“Stars will come in the night sky, shimmer somewhere. Advent will keep coming, this love story that never stops coming. Love like this could make us wonder. Somewhere, carols play.”
If we refuse to let ourselves step into Advent imperfectly, we ignore the purpose of Advent. To come, be with our God. To slow for a season. To remember for a season. To see things through His eyes for a season.
C.S. Lewis once said,
“When the year dies in preparation for the birth
Of other seasons, not the same, on the same earth,
Then saving and calamity go together make
The Advent gospel, telling how the heart will break.
Therefore it was in Advent that the Quest began.”
If you haven’t been remembering Advent, or if you have still been rushing through this season, it’s not too late. It’s not too late to read back through the Old Testament and everything it said about Jesus before his birth. It’s not too late to sit on the couch, stare at the Christmas lights, slowly sip a cup of coffee, and simply let yourself think. It’s not too late to embrace this season with intention.
Because isn’t that the truth we cling to in Jesus? That even at our worst, his birth meant it wasn’t too late for humanity to return to and be saved their God? Advent is time dedicated to rest in that truth – lean in.