There is in our little town a parish priest who is adamant about Advent. He does not like to sanction Christmas parties or Christmas teas or Christmas bake sales during Advent. I’ve seen parishioners shake their heads and smile (“That’s just Father. He’s Benedictine, you know …”), but I’ve grown to appreciate his fervor for the simplicity and sanctity of a season of preparation for the carols and the bells and the glad tidings and gift giving of Christmas.
Advent, when first I participated in it, was so very different from what I had imagined. The Nativity comes into play, absolutely, but Advent is about being as ready and watchful for Jesus in our hearts and in our future as it is about the fullness of time and the gift of God’s Son.
It has been said that the Lenten season is about repentance and purity, that Easter is about restoration and peace, but Advent speaks of renewal and purpose, and part of God’s purpose is to make us rich beyond imagination. If our bills and our debts tell us otherwise, we begin with the truth and adjust accordingly.
We will read many Scriptures about watching and waiting, and about the fulness that is ours in Christ Jesus. Today’s Advent Scripture tells us that we have been made rich in this life … we have been enriched in every way … not lacking any spiritual gift! … and we will be sustained to the end, guiltless in Christ. That is a lot of promise, if we will live by that light. That’s better than a new coffee-maker!
Four weeks of this progression, from wishing to hoping (from rags to riches in a very real sense), ardently appreciated and applied, will be the very best gift we could ever receive, and it could go a long way in helping us to take proper action in the days ahead. There isn’t much we can do about the commercialization of Christmas, except in our own hearts.
How do we apply it? One of the very best ways is to PRAY THE SCRIPTURES that we will read. Together we will answer when God speaks through His Word, such as in today’s reading. Look at verse 7, which is highlighted in the passage. The reading doesn’t seem very “Christmas-y” at first glance, but see what Paul says – we are waiting for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ! We give God thanks as we read, for His Son is being revealed. First in us, in the Church, and in countless ways all over the world, souls are warmed to the Gospel with each passing day. Even as the darkness increases, the Light of the World shines brighter and brighter, and we mustn’t forget that.
“Thank You, Father!” we pray, “Thank you for the riches that are ours in Your Son. We have a testimony of Your faithfulness, and we will have stories to tell of the ways in which You have enriched and sustained us to the end. Let Christ Jesus our Lord be revealed, increasingly, in us!”
So this evening, as we light for the second time our first Advent Candle, let us remember that it is called the Candle of Hope, and what a lively hope this is! Let us receive the blessing of the Apostle Paul as it comes down to us through the ages in Scripture, and let us give thanks this day that the Son of God will be revealed in our lives during this and every season. That is a Christmas miracle and a Christmas glory! That, I believe, is what Father Michael is praying for all his little flock during this Advent season. Amen.
Scripture reading, first Monday of Advent:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge—
even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you—
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, 7) as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ;
who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
photo by permission
Tesoro de Villena, Wikipedia