“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes―and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In case anyone might have missed it, we have entered headlong into the holiday season. Neighborhoods are once again filled with houses adorned with festive lights (ranging from understated to garish), nonstop seasonal advertising assaults the senses, and songs about reindeer, sleigh rides, and snowmen echo in every public space. People run hurriedly from one appointment to another—a holiday party here, a Christmas program there—all while trying to find the perfect gifts for friends and family.
So, with the constant din of crass consumerism ringing in our ears and a list of never-ending tasks stretching out before us, we can be excused for not recognizing that it really isn’t the Christmas season at all, which, technically, begins on Christmas Day and stretches out for 12 days until Epiphany on January 6. Rather, we are in the midst of Advent—a season of waiting and listening on God as He prepares to enter into our world in the form of an infant.
Now, lest anyone accuse me of being a “Scrooge,” I should point out that as I type this, I have a couple browser windows open on my computer dedicated to the purpose of purchasing the perfect Christmas gifts for my loved ones, and am trying to figure out what would be the best times to take the family out to see our favorite over-the-top light displays in town. I love the arrival of holiday baked goods, and I even enjoy the sounds and music of the season (in limited doses).
Still, I can’t help but think that all too often something gets lost in all the to-do that launches in earnest the second Thanksgiving dinner is cleared from the table.