Making the most of the season

I always have lofty plans for Advent, full of ideas for making this time as peaceful, reflective, and worshipful as I think it should be. “Silent Night” beckons me to carve out some quiet to consider the weightiness of the incarnation. Maybe sit in the dark by the light of the Christmas tree and ponder the miracle. Maybe light Advent candles and share in family devotions each evening.

And yet, even if I manage to arrange moments of quiet reflection, I find that Christmas rushes in before I feel ready. Life is so busy, often more so at this time of the year. Even our times of stillness can feel rushed, like just another item on the holiday checklist. So many plans and preparations, activities and obligations. I feel cheated, guilty, like I should have done more to savor the time, to quiet my heart, to be reverent.

But here’s the thing. Jesus didn’t slip peacefully into a worshipful, reverent, silent world. He didn’t wait until we were ready. Jesus burst into our messy, busy, crowded world. He came, not floating peacefully down from the heavens clothed in white, but through the struggle and mess of childbirth. Surely there were also some peaceful moments to rest and reflect, but the world He came to was not a place of peace, and He didn’t mind coming anyway. In fact, that’s why He came. He came to our world, and the wretched, violent, desperate mess we have made of it, on a rescue mission.

We shake our heads at the stories of mass shootings, terrorists, poverty, injustice, and other dark acts of darkened hearts. Some shake their fists at a God who would allow it to be. And God would shake us loose from these chains of sin through His Son, our Rescuer. He has a plan for this mess, and we see it now in His Christmas arrival and later in His Easter victory. God does not sit by unconcerned about the state of our world. It grieves Him enough that He sent His own Son to restore us, to bring true peace. He is the Light in the darkness, the Hope answer for our despairing questions.

So if I haven’t set up the Advent calendar yet or made an Advent wreath and I can’t manage to make time for daily Advent devotions with the kids like I want to, it’s still okay. He is here with us in the midst of our challenges and schedules and failures. He comes to us anyway, right where we are, penetrating our mess. It is great when we can be still, and we definitely need that at times, but God is still God in our busyness and stress and struggle.

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