Advent is the lead up to Christmas. Advent is hoping. Advent is waiting. Advent now, for Christians, is a specific time where we reflect on Christmas, intentionally, and the meaning of the incarnation – the better to know Christmas, the better to be Christians, and the better to know Christ.
So this first day should be the beginning of reflection.
Stop and breathe, everyone says. Stop and reflect. Just stop a moment, take a breath and reflect on ____ [insert topic of the day here]. This is a phrase we are used to. Our life is busyness, or at the very least, crowded and distracting. So almost as often as we tell each other to keep moving, keep doing, keep participating – do we also tell each other to stop. We can keep a measure of sanity this way – moving and stopping. Move and stop.
You see, in my own mind I treat the “just stop a moment, and reflect” thing as a thing in itself – a popular phrase, and a way to sound like, or believe that, you’re above the busyness somehow. Of course it holds great value, but it can also get a bit secularised, and become what may essentially amount to a method for reaching a state of self-actualisation. It can become a cool thing to say.
I both do and don’t want to “stop”. Life is movement, and stillness, together. There are seasons to press on and seasons to pull back – times to pursue something and times to think on something. But often, it’s the right time to do both. Be active, participate – and know that He is God, just as actively and no less surely. Learn the meaning – be still to learn it, and do this actively also. It may surprise some of you to know that I can’t stay still too long. My resting place is precious – and only when I have that can I happily get on with my life. Sometimes, my resting place isn’t physically stopping for half an hour in the morning.
How else can I describe this? I want to reflect. I want to contemplate. I want more than anything to learn the meaning of the incarnation – God coming to us. But I don’t want to be limited by a posture, or even a tradition. These things have great value, but they aren’t the thing themselves. I’m not in a place of wanting to completely draw back because it’s Advent – I still want to live, and see, and hear, and also tell. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
This is a season of joy, of peace, of adoration, giving, suffering and glory. What would it mean not only to fully understand these things, but for my life to reflect them completely?
I’ve opened only one Advent resource website to assist me so far – but this is as far as I’ll go today. Today, I begin to reflect.