It’s a well-known fact to members of my family that the season of Advent in the Christian church is my absolute favorite. I don’t know how that sounds to readers at home: Someone having a favorite liturgical season? It’s commonplace to like fall, winter, summer, or spring. But if you ask me, my favorite season takes place in the four weeks that lead up to Christmas Day. Maybe it’s the fact that the color of Advent is purple (my favorite, year round.) Or perhaps it’s the lessons that lie beneath the simplicity of the four words associated with this season: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
In the church I attend, the pastor centers his weekly sermon around the corresponding word. It’s a way to formulate a meditation for the congregation to take with them throughout the weeks as we endure mall madness, Christmas planning, possible travel, and holiday cooking. But these meditations do more than calm my feverish excitement for caroling, gift-giving, and tree decorating. They’ve managed to sweep me away to a Christmas that isn’t about the secular interpretations at all. Where the material gifts become obsolete, and the stories which define what exactly it means to be a Christian flood back to me.
**I have to credit this next epiphany to my step-dad, who’s the most prominent spiritual advisor in my life.**
Christmas isn’t about us. None of it is about us. The attitude of this more grounded Christmas is: we should remember that God will take care of us. Productivity is encouraged, but what we think we need may not be what God knows we need. So while we may believe what we absolutely need is an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, God may be there to lecture us this season just to say, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”