Advent is one of my favorite seasons of the church year; a time of quiet and peace, a time of hopeful expectation that God’s dream for the world will indeed some day become a complete reality, a time of preparing ourselves to give birth to Jesus in our own lives. I love that we are forced, at least in church, to slow down a bit and reflect before the “holidays” descend like a whirlwind on our lives. It is a whirlwind that is easy to get caught up in. We have images of the Norman Rockwell “perfect” Christmas in our minds and we work like mad to try and make that happen. We worry over everything from home decorations, to the menu, to the perfect gift for those we love. And while I am a fan of being festive, I think a lot of our energy, our drive to have the perfect Christmas, the perfect gift, is misplaced.
You see, the perfect gift, the best gift ever, was already given. And it did not look anything like a Norman Rockwell scene, nor a box with a fancy bow on it. It looked like a poor wandering couple looking for refuge and finding it, not in a fabulously decorated room with a feast on a huge table, but in a messy, animal filled stable. It looked like God, Creator of all, reaching out in perfect love and becoming a helpless, vulnerable baby. It looked like God loving us so much that God became completely and fully with us, demonstrating that flesh, blood, and dirt, life and death are good enough for God. That there is nothing that will ever separate us from the love of God. It still looks like that.
Now, we don’t have to look far beyond our own lives to see and know that God-with-us does not protect us from harm. It does not mean there is no darkness, bleakness, evil in the world. But it means that we know, we have seen, that God is with us no matter what—that God loves us no matter what—that our lives are of immense importance to God—and that Love ultimately heals and wins. I cannot imagine a more perfect gift.
I invite you to join us at St. Peter’s for services in Advent—to find that quietness and peace that the season brings. Then please join us for a joyful, exuberant celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ—the best, most perfect gift ever.