“Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
For those who follow a liturgical calendar you know we are in the season of Advent. This is the season that begins the church year. For those who don’t follow a liturgical calendar: We are in the season of Advent. You may wonder why this fact is important? Well, I am so glad you asked! I would like to offer three reasons Advent is important. But please know this list is definitely not exclusive!
Advent is a season of waiting. A season that calls us to slow down, to take our time, to give space, and in that space, we can learn to be vulnerable. It is a gift. And yet we hurry through to Christmas. We stay busy so we don’t have to offer space. We keep adding to our to do lists or take on tasks that are not ours to take on just so we don’t have space in our lives. Because space, time where we have no agenda, is scary.
It is scary precisely because in making space, we have time to be with family. Time to spend getting closer to those we love. Time to be ourselves which means we need to be vulnerable. Because, in order to let others get close to us, we have to take our guards down, disassemble the walls we have erected around us to protect our tender feelings. We have to learn to be real, honest, and well…vulnerable. So, space becomes scary and because space is scary, we get busy. We fill our lives with so many things to do so we don’t have to deal with how we feel about the various people in our lives. And of course, not giving ourselves time and space doesn’t let us resolve any issues.
In addition to keeping us from resolving the issues in our life and relationships, staying busy keeps us from enjoying life. Staying busy means we are always doing something. We always seem to have a lengthy to do list that never seems to get done. We are running hither and yon just to keep on top of all the agenda items we believe we need to accomplish. God does not want that life for us. In the beginning, God created and worked for 6 days and on the 7th day, God rested. Not because God needed to rest. God is God there is nothing God needs. But God rested to set the example for us. And we do need rest. We need sleep to rejuvenate our bodies for the next day. We need rest so we have time to enjoy the fruits of our labors. I mean stop and think about this for a minute: if you are always busy doing something, when do you have time to enjoy the things your work has allowed you to have? We need rest and relaxation.
But most importantly, this season of Advent, that is a season of waiting, is also a season of expectation. I love when expectant parents choose to not find out if they are having a boy or girl but wait until the baby is born. They wonder throughout the pregnancy is it a boy? A girl? What will we name the baby? What will we they look like? All the questions. They are in a season of expectation. These are seasons that are filled wonder and mystery. They point to something that is about to happen. Something that is wonderful, amazing, spectacular…and yet small, hidden, and unexpected.
Advent teaches us so many lessons, but we have to be open to the lessons it wants to teach. That is true with everything. So, during Advent, we are asked to slow down. We are asked to allow the wonder to fill us, asked to offer space to Emmanuel, God who is with us. These next four weeks offer us an opportunity to make space for more than busyness, more than a hectic pace that leaves us breathless. We are being given an opportunity to breathe, rest, heal, and let God’s Holy Spirit infuse us with hope.