The most wonderful time of the year: the beauty of advent and Christmas.
It is difficult to put into words the ‘beauty’ and ‘love’ that we feel when advent ‘comes around the corner’ and we prepare for Christmas. Many people eagerly begin anticipation for Christmas, as soon as summer draws to a close. Suddenly, people are concerned about all the ways in which ‘we can make others happy’. Now, I admit I am one of those people because I simply cannot wait until Christmas.But, what is it about advent and Christmas that ‘stirs’ something different within us? Why does this season of the year make us appreciate everyone and everything in our lives?
It is hard not to see that something is different ,all around us, during this beautiful season and people often say things like ‘Christmas is in the air’. I was thinking about this recently and something ‘clicked’ for the first time. I’d never thought of this before. So much so that I literally said out loud “ Lord, this is soo Amazing. Why didn’t you tell me this before?”. I bet Jesus chuckled a little at this point and said "It was always there Jubia. You just didn’t see it”. A human being, gifted with intellect and reason, I was blinded with ignorance about a ‘great’ news that all of creation, although inferior than I, was able to understand. I realised that there is something different ‘ in the air’ because all of nature comprehends that the ‘God of creation’ entered into the world at this ‘time of year’. What a pity is it then that we, the glory of Gods creation, seems to forget the awesomeness of God becoming like us?
I remember as a child being told by my family ,while we prepared the nativity scene ,during advent, that we had to wait until Christmas day to put baby Jesus in the ‘manger’. There was an excitement in waiting until Christmas to bring out the ‘teeny tiny’ statue of baby Jesus, so beautiful with its palms clasped in prayer. I would even say that , as a child, I often didn’t distinguish Christmas as a remembrance of what once happened. To me it seemed as if it was ‘now’. I often think back to such innocent times and realise how as an adult I don’t experience the same emotions. I await and I’m excited but that ‘awe’, I had as as child, is missing at times. This is precisely the point. To fully understand this magnificent season we need to be like a child and yearn for baby Jesus to be born in our lives ‘now’ at this moment in time.
Last year, during advent I started to think deeply about our lady and what she must have felt while waiting for the birth of Jesus. I was constantly bewildered by awe and wonder at how God, the creator of the universe, entered into the womb of a simple young girl. I couldn’t help but think about the wonder that Mary must have felt knowing that the son of God, who is fully God, was literally growing in her womb.
Those tiny little hands, feet, nose , ears and eyes that were developing were those of God.
Likewise, every time this tiny baby kicked in her womb , she must have been in awe of how those kicks were that of God.
When Mary spoke to the baby in her womb, she must have been ‘blown away’ knowing that ‘God’ was listening ever so silently in her tummy.
Ahh, I can’t imagine how profound this was and the more I think about it the more I can’t contain my tears.
Now, when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we too are like Mary experiencing ‘God’ enter in flesh within us. When we ponder how mother Mary felt during advent our experience of the eucharist (especially during advent) will be like never before. Our God is truly amazing!
The commercialisation of Christmas and the tolling effects it has upon the advent season is a ‘hot’ topic amongst catholics today. This is rightly so. How often have we seen the advent season. How often have we seen the advent season be clouded over by the rush to ‘buy gifts’,organise parties and to eat, drink and be merry. We miss something when this becomes the focus of advent. There is no awaiting or preparation for christ anymore. Without this waiting Christmas will, make no sense because we are are failing to wait and prepare, for the coming of the son of God, like the characters of the Christmas story. The patient waiting, listening and watching was what enabled the shepherds and wise men to meet baby Jesus.
If we don’t do the same we will miss the opportunity to relive the awesome historical fact that God, the reason for existence, touched earth at this time 2, 000 years ago.
If we don’t take a moment to step back and ponder ‘advent’ then we will be like all those other people in Bethlehem who had no idea that the biggest event in salvation history was taking place right in their neighbourhood.
It is hard not to accept that advent and Christmas are magical times of the year. But this magic is only ‘MAGICAL’ when we see this season through a renewed lens, tinted with a love for Christ and an understanding of the beginning of greatest story ever told. When we approach advent with this perspective Christmas will truly be the most wonderful time of the year. Furthermore, every aspect of Christmas that we enjoy, whether it is putting up decorations, buying presents, wrapping presents , organising time with family and friends or Christmas dinner, will be more fruitful and meaningful. These ordinary things that we do in the name of ‘love’ will become extraordinary when we understand that these things point to He who is love himself.
I hope this reflection has stirred within you a new perspective and love for Christmas. Be a proud christian this advent because you know something that others don’t. The beauty of advent and Christmas doesn’t end for you on Christmas day. Christmas reminds us of what happened but it also points us to the future when God will once again come to meet His people, in the second coming. All of heaven awaited for that day 2,000 years ago and still awaits for the day that will come. This wonder should encompass everything we do this advent and Christmas seasons. We should in wonder, ponder what happened whilst waiting in anticipation for the future.