The turning of the calendar to the month of December has long been
special to me. Although we marked the first Sunday of Advent already (as early as it can get, for Christmas falls on a Sunday this year), today marks the first day of active celebration, of waiting, and yes, of opening windows, and boxes, and whatever other kind of advent calendar you might have.
When I was expecting my third child 40 years ago, due the beginning of February, it was a natural way to introduce my children to waiting, to anticipation of our coming event. We could focus on the story of Jesus’ birth in a new way, but we also had a lot of fun. Every day we had a new activity to share together, from sewing “snowballs” and sending them to their army uncle who was stationed in Cyprus, to baking cookies and delivering them to neighbours.
Last year I gave some of my grandchildren the gift of a Jesse tree, which uses decorative symbols to decorate a little tree, ancient symbols which tell the story of the coming Messiah. You can read about it on the internet, but it is a great way to engage the whole family in learning the history of the Christmas story.
This is a day where I’ll pull out the decorations and it feels like Christmas has begun. It seems like it happens earlier and earlier. I look on these days as an invitation to slow down, to reflect, to just enjoy this season of lights, and faith, and hope. There are advent resources everywhere, one doesn’t have to look far.
I love the emphasis on the words of Christmas, words of faith to live by. And we start with hope. We wait with hope. Hope gives wings to our weary spirits and helps us to believe, even in the dark.
In a dark and troubled world, we need hope more than ever. And the gift of a babe, all those years ago, is as real today, the hope that Christ is alive, and longs to dwell among us, within us.
So in this sacred season, I pray you will be filled with hope, a hope that is eternal, a hope that is sure.