It’s the first week of Advent.  The first candle on the wreath is glowing with the hope of Christmas. Folks are busy with their shopping and decorating and baking.  It seems like it was just Halloween and now everywhere you look it’s Christmas already.  But Advent comes first, and it invites us to slow down and reflect on what Christmas means.  Advent says:  slow down, don’t rush, remember the reason for all the celebrating.  It’s hard for us to do that.  The world doesn’t want us to remember the meaning of Christmas.  It wants us to forget the salvation story.  The world craves busy-ness, not our silence, not our reflection.  And so, in her wisdom, the Church offers us Advent as a path away from the world, and deeply into the story of the Holy Family.

Our Lord could have saved us in any way that He wished, using any means, at any time in history.  He chose to make a covenant with Abraham and to foretell the Messiah through His prophets.  In the fullness of time, a little girl was born.  She grew in holiness and God chose her to bear His Son.  When she was greeted by Gabriel, she said, “Yes,” to God’s plan. Her husband Joseph joined in her faith and they began to make a home and a family for their Savior.  They waited, and they prayed, and they lived in hope.

And that’s where we find ourselves this week.  We can choose to become immersed in the story of our salvation, or we can choose to be distracted by the noise of the world around us.  Looking at Mary and Joseph as they journey through that first Advent can teach us a great deal.  From the moment the angel first appeared to Mary to announce to her the coming birth of Jesus, she knew that God was truly in control of everything.  His plan was unfolding in her life just as it had been planned and prophesied for ages.  Joseph was given a dream which revealed to the truth to Him, as well.  Both of them became willing cooperators with God.  When we give our lives to God and embrace His plan for us, we allow ourselves to be used for His great purpose.

Joseph and Mary learned how to wait.  Any expectant couple knows how this feels.  You realize you’re no longer in control of things and sometimes it’s very frustrating.  But it’s a very valuable lesson to learn — not to live in the future, but to savor each moment of the present and leave tomorrow up to God.  Waiting allows us to remember that every second is a gift from Him.  We can choose to be impatient, or we can choose to be grateful for the time we’ve been given.  Are we using our time to help others, to give glory to God, to become more like Jesus?  Or are we living only for ourselves?

Advent opens our hearts to the infinite.  The Incarnation tears the fabric of time as God enters history to become a human infant.  Our Creator becomes one of us in everything but sin.  God reveals His immense love for us by becoming a child.  He is a member of our human family, as helpless and dependent as any other infant.  God reveals to Joseph and Mary the grandeur of His nature in the tiny, grasping fingers of a baby.  The salvation of the world allows Himself to be loved as an infant is loved.

As we wait for His birth, we learn to think of time differently.  We see how eternity can become a baby.  We recall how the people of God waited for their salvation for generations.  Yet when the King arrived, He was a helpless baby, not a warrior or a political leader.  We learn again and again that we are not in control of God’s plan for our lives.  We see the unexpected at every turn.  We know that our waiting is part of that plan, no matter what will happen next.  We have the hope of hopes coming soon as the Savior of us all.  And so, in these weeks, we wait with Mary and Joseph, trusting in the unfolding plan of God and treasuring every moment as a gift.  We think about that little family, so long ago, and we pray to be more like them.  We invite the Lord to calm the noise of the world around us during this busy season and to help us remember how to wait, and to hope in Him.

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”

             —–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Brian H. Gill
    Dec 04, 2017 @ 00:42:59

    I like your emphasis on choice/free will: on our part, and God’s.


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