Advent is one of my favorite times in the church year. It’s a call to the church to wait and prepare. This is not a frenzied preparation, but a hopeful time of anticipation.
But, this is not usually how it feels in my life between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As a pastor, my advent is busier than other times of year. My church has extra services, worship becomes more involved, there’s a Christmas pageant, the choir has extra rehearsals, and the sanctuary needs to be decorated. And that’s just at work–in our family, the kids have holiday concerts, recitals, school parties and secret Santa exchanges.
(Just typing that last paragraph made my blood pressure rise!)
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has the potential to be too full and too stressful. This can result in flared anger, running at an unsustainable pace, and a schedule filled with too many “must do” activities. Let’s face it, the season has the potential to absolutely stink.
Our family visited with my dad in Arizona over Thanksgiving. We flew out from the east coast, then took a 2.5 day train ride home. The train ride was spectacular–our family read, played cards, napped, laughed and talked together. We had a wonderful time.
We were excited to get home, but we had no choice but to rest and enjoy the ride. We had to slow down, notice the scenery and observe the change from mountains to plains, from rural to urban. This was a much better experience than the airplane ride to Phoenix–while the plane trip was short, we were cramped and everyone around us was grumpy and in a hurry.
In this season of advent, I’m thinking of the time of advent preparation as a leisurely train trip, rather than an unpleasant airplane ride. We will arrive at our destination, and we will enjoy the ride. We have plenty of time along the way to notice, to rest and to enjoy the scenery as we go.
A parents, we get to set the tone for advent with our kids. We are their tour guides through the first seasons of their lives. What do we want our kids to notice? What do we want their sights set on?
We are preparing our children to be like branches from the roots of Jesse, and in doing this, we tell them the story of Jesus, and of God’s work in the world. What better way to nurture the roots than by slowing down and telling them the story–that’s the best nutrition our little trees could ask for!
May our sights be set on preparation, waiting, and noticing Jesus in our midst, and may that anticipation be the root our children’s love for God and others.