It’s the second week of Advent and I’m not really feeling it.
Generally speaking, people slide easily into one of three distinct categories: (1) those who absolutely love Christmas; (2) those who find Christmas super stressful; and, (3) those who are indifferent to Christmas.
I love Jesus but I am planted firmly in the third camp.
I’m relieved not to be in the second group – thankfully most of my family and my friends aren’t big on gifts either. Other than finding something to distribute at Christmas lunch or for the office Kris Kringle I don’t really do “Christmas shopping”.
I wish I was in that first category but having been denied any childhood experiences of Santa (I say this with no bitterness whatsoever) the season holds little nostalgia for me. I struggle to suspend reality and connect with Christ’s incarnation because I know he was actually born in June.
Even emotionally speaking, Easter packs a way bigger punch. Holy Week is the real tearjerker, the event of the year. The anticipation, the Last Supper, the betrayal, the Passion, the torn veil, the Resurrection.
Let’s face it, there is nothing epic or romantic about pine trees and reindeer in an Australian summer. Fake snow and carols feel out of place here.
And Santa? There’s nothing romantic about a fat old guy in a red suit – anywhere.
It’s all so stale and it makes little sense.
So I scour the season, I scour Scripture, both for magic and for logic.
I find that I love Advent – I love the word. It paints a clear picture of expectation.
Ad + venire: “coming”.
I’ve been reading the start of Genesis, the redemption plan set into motion as early as Chapter 3 with Eve’s seed, before she and Adam are exiled from Eden.
I’ve come now to Abraham, who leaves his homeland for a promise, becoming the father of nations, countless as the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky; father of Isaac, the father of Jacob, then generations upon generations through to Jesus of Nazareth.
He is a long time coming, but come He does – and this is the culmination of so much hope, so much longing, so much waiting.
I love Mary’s humility and her joy. She is nobody but God chooses her. The angel Gabriel comes to her with the craziest news and she says,
I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.
– Luke 1:38
And later in verses 46 to 55, she sings this beautiful, praise-filled, God-focused song now known as the Magnificat. Throughout the centuries composers have arranged her lyrics to music – Bach, Mendelssohn, Pachelbel and Tchaikovsky, to name just a few of them.
I find that I love the mystery of the One who steps down from eternity, emerging mortal:
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
– John 1:14
God crafts time and space such that at a certain point in history the divine and the human finds unity in the person of Jesus Christ.
This should blow my mind more often than it does.
I love that Advent is one small suffix away from Adventure. And as I pause to reflect and write, I can see the epic threads of Christmas emerge.
Abraham’s story and the whole Old Testament is one of adventure – and misadventure – as God’s chosen people journey through the desert lands, through kings and through exile, struggling to stay true to Him. Yet He remains faithful.
If motherhood is an adventure, imagine being the Messiah’s earthly mother. After the angel’s appearance, Mary’s life was never going to be the same again. What things did she “treasure in her heart” as she watched Jesus grow?
God Himself living as a Man, with all of our limitations, surrounded by our pettiness and weakness. That must have been a whole other class of adventure (like a weird and painful trip, I’d imagine).
These threads are present throughout the year, throughout history. Not only in December. But if we need a public holiday, a cultural celebration, to give us the space to pause and reflect, then that’s a start – but let’s not end there.