Are you struggling to wrap your brain around the fact that yesterday was the second Sunday of Advent (Hey – I just barely digested my Thanksgiving leftovers, people!)? You are not alone in your disbelief and bewilderment, my friend. Welcome to the Land of So. Much. To. Do. And. Yet. So. Very. Little. Time. In. Which. To. Do. It.
As a follower of Christ awaiting His birth, it seems that something is consistently – and sometimes quite violently – working to pull my focus away from the birth of Our Lord and to nearly anything else that catches my eye or demands my attention. Instead of peace, I feel uneasy. Instead of expectant hope, I feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Rather than taking more time for reflective prayer and meditation, I’m tempted to panic by the sheer volume of endless to-do lists that seemingly spontaneously give birth to even more lists.
What’s going on here?
Consider: We are moving toward the most spectacularly precious time of the year, when the words of John 3:16 become reality. We are reminded of how lavishly our Heavenly Father loves us – that He truly did send His only Son into the world so that we might be saved.
At Christmas, the prophesies are fulfilled: a Light has come into the world … the Son of God takes on human flesh and dwells among us … the face of God is visible to His people and we do not perish. And, in the moment of His birth, everything – truly everything – changes.
Is it any wonder, then, that the enemy of our souls seeks to distract, overwhelm, and undermine our journey to the manger at this precise time of year?
Satan will do anything and everything in his power to steal our peace (and faith, and joy, and hope) this Advent and Christmas season, my friends, because he wants to keep us as far as possible from that manger.
He doesn’t want us to behold the Divine Baby in solemn adoration and be changed from the inside out. He doesn’t want us to have a personal encounter with the Most High God, waiting meekly for us in the hay. Lucifer may be called the Father of Lies, but even he knows it is Truth Himself Who awaits us in Bethlehem: the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in the flesh, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
At times like this, I cling to gentle reminders of what this Advent season is really about:
It’s not about showcasing Pinterest-worthy wreaths or calendars; it’s about heralding the arrival of the King.
It’s not about reading magnificent Christmas stories to our children; it’s about listening to the Author of Life Who is come into the world.
It’s not about baking delectable desserts that dazzle our senses and delight our Instagram followers; it’s about the miraculous Word Made Flesh and receiving Him worthily in the Eucharist.
It’s not about giving and receiving invitations to fabulous holiday parties; it’s about readying the way for our King and preparing to celebrate His birth.
It’s not about getting everyone to look at the camera for a Facebook-ready greeting card; it’s about examining our lives and preparing a place for the Savior to be born in our hearts.
It’s not about buying the perfect gifts for those we love; it’s about making a perfectly humble gift of our very selves to the Baby on His birthday, as flawed and imperfect as we are.
Don’t get me wrong – none of the above is sinful or wrong in and of themselves – we should enjoy the many treasures of life and love and community this time of year allows; however, if we’re focused more on the stuff of this world than the stuff of our Savior this season, it’s time to stop down, step back, and reassess our priorities.
Can you see the manger, my friend?
Do you see the baby?
Do you see Our Lord?
He is waiting.
What is keeping you away from the manger this Advent season, dear one? Ask our Heavenly friends – the saints and angels (especially your Guardian Angel!) – to keep your eyes and efforts fixed upon Him Who is to come.
Copyright 2015 Heather Renshaw.
Image copyright 2015 Heather Renshaw. All rights reserved.