Image Credit: Advent Candle by Randomsoleil on Flickr
Today is the first day in the Advent season, a time - the beginning, really - in the church year during which we anticipate the coming of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a season marked by reflection, prayer, and awaiting in hope.
And all too often, we mosey along through Advent without giving it much thought; we are too focused on the end, Christmas. However, Christmas has its own season, which comes after Christmas Eve, not before like our consumerism culture suggests. So, we invite you to take a step back this holiday season and delve into the journey that Advent is meant to be.
Perhaps we like to jump right to Christmas because we think we know the story so well...but do we really? One approach to the Advent season is to contemplate the story of Jesus' birth on deeper level and with fresh eyes, so that when Christmas comes you are really in tune with its message.
Reread the Bible passages in Matthew and Luke and consider how Mary must have felt, scared and uncertain -- she was pregnant, probably thought that Joseph would accuse her of adultery, and in that time and place, one punishment for adultery was stoning.
Consider how Joseph might have felt, and what's more, the shepherds, the innkeeper, and the magi. Of course, we will never know their thoughts and feelings for certain because we were not there, but imagining what the journey to Jesus' birth and his coming itself might have been like can help us experience the story in new ways.
Jesus' coming to us two millennia ago is not just a nice story about a young woman who bore a child. It is the reality of a God who loves us so much that he would come as a baby in a dirty stable in the small town of Bethlehem, born to a typical young woman. Mary looked upon the face of hope and salvation that night, which is still moving in the world today. As this Advent season begins, may you recognize what a miracle Jesus' birth truly is, and may you be drawn ever closer to the God who loves you so abundantly. Amen.