The meaning of Advent

We aren’t quite there, but we’re getting close to the Christmas season.

Advent means “coming” or “visit.” For Christians, Advent has historically been a time when we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. The people of Israel had expectations for God’s “coming.” They had legitimate needs. And although they sometimes, well, regularly, forgot this one true thing, when they got into trouble, their hearts would inevitably return to the source of their hope and rescue - God.

When we forget that we too have profound needs, it is often because we have distracted ourselves, just as the Israelites did, with baubles and beads (false strategies/false gods). Christmas can be an enormous distraction. But it can also be collectively effervescent.

I believe we can do that without giving up our lights and tinsel and trees and hot cocoa and cookies. But only if we are willing to wake up and recognize our need for a God who saves and restores. You know what is beautiful about this perspective? It gives us a way to appreciate even our gully washer holidays. You know the ones - when coal shows up in our stockings, or all our family goes out of town and we are left to scramble for a way to celebrate with others. Or the kids all come down with the flu. Or there is a fight about politics on Christmas Eve that takes the Ho Ho Ho right out of the season.

Collective effervescence can provide us insights into how we can take the most humbug Christmas and turn it into something magical. But we will have to wake up to do so. Are you ready to wake up? Are you willing to think about the collective even at the expense of your personal preferences?