Advent & Christmas

Second Week of Advent

I was sitting in my weekly meeting this morning, listening to everyone talk about the days they’ll be out of the office around Christmas. I frowned, turned to the person beside me, and whispered, “Is next week the week before Christmas?” So it is.

The first week of Advent was a whirlwind of busy: There was one project at work that just wouldn’t get resolved. I had a concert that weekend that needed programs, bake sale goods, and a lot of practicing. There were multiple gifts to wrap and drop off for adopt-a-families. Two Bible study groups were wrapping up for the season, with accompanying homework.

At least I slept. It was my only downtime during the week.

Even in the midst of the week, I knew I was doing Advent all wrong. I’d picked up the Little Blue Book for daily readings, but crashed at night without opening it. I was reading two days at a time to catch up. As the days progressed, I was sorely disappointed with the looming priorities and the lack of time spent with the One whose season we were supposed to be celebrating.

But Advent is a renewal, right? It’s a new liturgical year. It’s leading up to the celebration of birth. So there’s no reason why I can’t begin my true Advent in the second week.

The Little Blue Book suggests setting goals for the season. I’d written some down that first week, but hardly remembered them. I had to flip back to see what they were. I may have an abbreviated schedule, but can still finish that list: Read two books; write Christmas cards to friends I don’t see as often; practice piano. (I’ve been meaning to relearn that for a while.) So this week, I began reading The Crucified Rabbi. I made a list of Christmas card recipients. As for piano… I began by dusting it off.

But that’s part of it: we don’t have to do it all at once. I got burned out last week and didn’t appreciate the glory of the coming of Advent. So this week, I take it one thing at a time. I was too focused on doing and not focused enough on experiencing. It’s easy to fall into this around Christmas. There are gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, and concerts to perform. But it’s not about the mechanical doing. It’s a celebration, and a welcoming of new life.

So I’ll sit at my kitchen table, light two candles on the Advent wreath, and open the Little Blue Book. And experience it.