It’s Advent already. Phew. Wasn’t it just Labor Day? Wasn’t Easter about two weeks before that? How is it we made another lap around the sun already?
There’s the old joke about how wrong it is to be surprised that Christmas is around the corner: after all, it hasn’t moved off of December 25th in hundreds of years. And yet each year I find myself making plans to be better prepared to have a more meaningful Christmas, only to have them dashed against the rocks.
I think there’s two places I go awry at Advent each year. One is in just the sheer busyness of the season, and getting caught up in everything that’s “expected.” Here’s this weekend, for example. Saturday morning, Emmaus accountability breakfast with the men who help keep me centered in Christ. Then home to get our daughter to an appointment, then down to get my mom for her own appointment with the dentist at noon. After, a bite to eat, then off shopping for the holidays ahead of the annual lay leadership dinner at church in the evening, before a “mandatory” holiday party at a coworker’s house (“You’ve really got to come!”). Then Sunday is church, grocery shopping, making a batch of chili for the office holiday week coming up, going to help pack my mom ahead of moving next week (!), and then a couple hours in the office (because I didn’t get everything done and it’s a busy season and my boss gets back Monday and will expect things to be Just So).
It’s madness! And yet those are my days and weekends in December every year. Where’s the rest? Where’s the sabbath? Where’s the peace, the joy?
And that’s the second place I go off the rails. My Advent isn’t nearly enough about that ancient prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” We’re called to devote time each December to remembering the promise that what began in a manger two millennia ago will come to fruition when Christ returns.
“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13)
Christ promises he will return. And my sin in Advent is I don’t spend nearly enough of my heart on praying for that day, on readying myself for his second coming. Instead I get consumed by the to-do list, not the to-love list. I suspect I’m not alone (OK, I know I’m not). But it remains my goal every year: to live a life more aligned with the prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”
It’s Advent again. A fresh chance to let my heart turn to Christ. Pray I don’t miss it again this year.