Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent - A time of preparation

Top piece of wall hanging "The Nativity" by the author. 
A star appears, the angel waits, hovering above the land, a land filled with expectation.

Bottom right of "The Nativity" wall hanging.
Sheep graze while their shepherds watch...


We prepare for Christmas by decorating, cleaning and rearranging our homes. Strings of electric lights help us illuminate the darkness of winter. We hang up wreaths, green garland and put up evergreen trees and boughs, to remind us that even amid the bleakness of these cold months, there is life. Scents of pine, cinnamon and other spices help to remind us of the security of home and hearth that most of us enjoy (and take for granted much of the time).

Perhaps this could also be a time to prepare ourselves -  to face another year; another year to be better to those we love,  another year to nurture our own inner life, another year to do more for those less fortunate.

Perhaps we can keep that illumination, even after the last string of twinkling bulbs has been stowed away. Perhaps the wellness of the earth that we remind ourselves of during wintertime will be cherished for the miracle that it is, even after spring flowers reappear and snow and ice melt away. Maybe we'll think more about those who are not as comfortable as we are, and be more alert for opportunities where we can make a difference when the free turkey dinners and handouts of Christmas food drives subside. Just maybe...

We are counting down the days; the counting starts sooner each year, it seems. Already several Christmas specials sales, animated stories and musical shows have passed. Children are excited and behaving like little angels themselves, or trying to anyway. Some kiddies, good or bad, will get very little, if anything at all, due to circumstances they have no control over; some expect nothing, some will be disappointed. Many youngsters will receive more than they wanted or needed, however, and fail to appreciate any of it.

Yet, Christmas can be a marvelous time to impart life lessons on these future adults. Sure, we've helped perpetuate this myth of the Jolly Ol' Elf; we've bought into the "department store Christmas" just as our parents and their parents did before them. But a mere century and a quarter before now, Christmas presents were handmade and needed, one or two store bought items, if that. We've come a long way from that scenario these days. I'm not saying it's for the worst or for the best, I'm just saying that's the way it is.

But it needn't be that way, if that's not our true vision of the world we'd like to live in. Our children can be taught not to buy into the hype of spend-spend-spend for Christmas. Our families can practice the ideal of giving out of our excess to help those who have less than enough. Our spirits can rise above the frey, our world can become full of light and love, and we can be the cause of that joyous sound that will fill the air. Just maybe...


For the grace to bring the light of Christ to the world by offering lives of service, we pray to the Lord.

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