By Deacon Bob McCoy
Have you noticed our newspapers are thicker these days with ads as the marketing folks are trying to entice us to buy this or that? Our shopping malls are full of Christmas decorations, toys, and even “toys” for big boys and girls, for those of us who are of mature age.
In case you haven’t noticed — the Christmas rush is on track! Many of our Christmas preparations are good — Toys for Tots and donations for the hungry and needy. These items are being collected in large quantities! People are looking out for the needs of others. Perhaps these good things that happen during the season can help us overcome our excessive, materialistic thirst for “things.”
In spite of our rush to complete our Christmas “to do” lists it is good to take time to think about where we have been and where we are going in our life. This helps to keep us in balance physically and mentally. It is noted by health experts that additional holiday stress causes some of us to become anxious and even physically ill when we are out of balance.
We seem to be rushing to Christmas, each year starting earlier in the fall. Many of us as we prepare for celebrating the anniversary of Christ’s birth develop tunnel vision. We become so wrapped up in planning the future holiday events we forget the reality of the present. We do not take time to savor and enjoy the good things of our present lives. We miss the reality of God’s presence with us, even in the sometime messiness of our life.
Celebration of the Advent season disappears from our daily schedule. It is a casualty of our seasonal frenzy.
Advent is a time which enables each of us to respond and savor the reality of Christ’s coming that first Christmas and looking to his future coming at a unknown day and hour as Matthew describes in Sunday’s Gospel. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reminds us to put on the light of Christ and move away from sins or habits which burden us on our faith journey.
Advent teaches us to be more willing to be patient with ourselves and one another as we wait with joyful hope. Take time to look for God, look for a reflection of Jesus in others you meet, take time to look for God in the beauty of the season, or even in your holiday preparations. No one is in charge of your joyfulness but you. Life is not tied with a bow, but it is still a gift.
Celebrate the joy and hope of the Advent season by giving the gift of your time to visit the sick, homebound or lonely folks who might be in your neighborhood or have been an acquaintance from years ago. Be a helping hand at your church, or at a nursing home, a meal site or food pantry for the needy.
These gifts are in the spirit of Advent — AND they do not need to be gift wrapped!