The season of Advent has always been one of my favorite seasons of the church year; both a time of quiet and peace as well as a time of hopeful expectation that God’s dream for the world will, one day, become reality. Advent is a time of preparing ourselves to “give birth” to Jesus in our own lives. During Advent, at least in the church, we are given the opportunity to slow down a bit and reflect before Christmas Day descends upon us like a whirlwind. It is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind surrounding Christmas.
Do you remember the Norman Rockwell images of Christmas? So perfect – so ideal...often these images of a “Perfect” Christmas get caught up in our minds and we work with all our might to try and make that “perfect” Christmas happen. We worry over everything from our decorations, the menu that will be put on the table, to finding the perfect gifts for those we love. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being festive but sometimes I find that our time and energy is misplaced trying to make Christmas so perfect.
Why? The perfect Christmas already happened. The perfect gift has already been given. And it did not arrive in a fancy box with bows and paper. It didn’t look anything like the scenes from a Norman Rockwell painting.
It looked like a poor wandering couple looking for refuge; finding it, not in an amazingly decorated room with a feast by a fire, but in a messy, smelly, stable filled with animals.
It looked like God, the Creator of all, reaching out to all people in perfect love and becoming a vulnerable, helpless infant. It looked like God loving us so much that God became completely and fully with us. It showed us that flesh, blood, 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, even after over 2000 years.
We don’t need to look very far beyond our own lives to know that God-with-us (Emmanuel) does not protect us from hard, it does not mean there is no darkness or 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 immensely important to God – and that Love ultimately heals and ultimately wins. I can’t imagine a more perfect gift, especially in our world today!
May this Season be a joyful, exuberant celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ – the best and the most perfect gift – ever!