Can you believe there are only 9 more days left of Advent?! (Not counting today anymore.) That’s right, we are now in the third week of Advent – Gaudette, rejoice!
Gaudette Sunday marks the “halfway” point in Advent. We’ve made it through the first two weeks and now only have two left! For some, this knowledge brings more anxiety that it does joy.
Some years, I feel all organized and on top of all my lists and other years I feel more like punching this season in the face or hiding away from it in my closet with chocolate. Why is that?
Oh those darn expectations – always pulling us in every which way and making us feel guilty about everything we are not doing, blinding us to everything we are doing.
This isn’t what Advent is about, though – at least not what it is supposed to be. Originally, the intent of Advent was to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth – the glorious moment when God-became-man arrived from his hidden place within Mary’s womb out for all the world to know and worship.
It is a time of expectant joy. We await his birth, the celebration of it, with hope; expecting to have joy when the time comes. Much like a woman expecting a child.
Advent and Christmas were not intended as a time to turn that expectation around onto ourselves. But that’s exactly what’s happened. Instead of preparing and expecting the joy of Christ, we spend most of our Advent and Christmas trying to do everything that everyone expects from us or what we expect from ourselves. (Although, the latter is usually more than the former.) For most children, the innocent and the not-so-innocent, they still know how to wait expectantly…for the gifts they will receive.
Interestingly, at the very first Christmas there was only one person who received gifts – the baby Jesus. Everyone else was in such awe and filled with such joy, they had no need or desire for any other gift. God’s tangible presence was gift enough.
For most parents, by the time Christmas comes, they need a second Advent to wind down from the first.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Advent can be a hope-filled expectant time and Christmas can be a joyful celebration. It all depends on our…
We have to take the time to dig – and I mean deep. Down, down into the very core of our soles. There, we have to ask ourselves – What does God really expect from me? And what do I really expect from God?
I can’t tell you exactly what God expects from you but I can guess that the only thing He really truly expects from you is your love. It’s what He hopes for, what He longs for. He wants to give you His Love and He also wants to receive your Love in return. And the way we give God our love is by opening ourselves to receive His Love.
Gifts and sweets are fun and part of our current cultural traditions. All those picture-perfect Christmas cards are nice gestures, attending the various Christmas social gatherings are quaint and sometimes even fun, and bundling up in 3 layers of coats and long underwear to trudge through the cold singing Christmas carols off-key is also a fun tradition.
But as good as all those are in an of themselves, they aren’t necessary. And – most importantly – God does not expect you to do all that, or any of that.
The only thing God expects – hopes – from you is your faithful, pure, generous, unabashed and total love.
So if you’re feeling all frazzled and your chest is closing in on your heart, stop. Take a breath. Breathe. And then – pray.
Ask God to open your heart to His love during this last leg of Advent. Give Him all your “works” – all your to-do’s, all your gifts, all those baked goods and candies, all the cards, events, all of it. Give it Him and ask Him to use it all – for His Good, for His Will. And then, ask Him to take away anything that He doesn’t need, anything that isn’t necessary for the accomplishment of His Good Will. Trust. Trust Him completely.
Then – you will have peace. You will have expectant joy.
Copyright 2014 Erika Marie