Advent is a season of waiting and preparing, preparing for the birth of the savior, Jesus, who came as a baby and whose birth we celebrate each year. We celebrate the spiritual birth and honor his work in our hearts on Christmas; it is a most sacred time of year.
Each year I write or say something like this from the pulpit, and I admit, I do not connect with it. Yes, I have two children and I know what it is to wait and prepare for the coming of a child. I also LOVE Christmas (in the secular sense). I love decorating and presents, both giving and receiving- I’m not going to lie. I love crazy sweaters and people’s “cheer” and parties where we dress up in clothes that sparkle.
I love it all.
But I, like most people who celebrate Christmas, want to skip right over preparation and hold the baby. I want to sing Carols of the birth, not of the coming. I want to skip right to the light and forget the darkness. When waiting for a child to be born there is so much unknown, so much uncontrollable mystery. The sex of the baby is always the first question asked, then the due date. And the annoying question that I always got was, do you think it’ll have red hair? As if I knew the answer…
As the expectant parent, grandparent, or friend we wonder. Will she be healthy? What is something happens to him? What if something happens to me? Will I be a good parent? And this is just the beginning.
If we skip over these very real and very scary questions, we are ignoring God. God is just as present in the preparation.
Christmas Eve is often everyone’s “favorite” service of the year. But when asked why it is not easily articulated. It’s the same story, same music, same candles every year, what makes it so special?
I believe what we cannot articulate is that Christmas Eve is the ritualization of the light meeting the darkness. For a few brief moments, everything is good, we tell the story of the birth, there are angels and shepherds, but then the lights go out. The words of darkness and watery chaos come, then the light of the word enters and the darkness could not overcome it.
This is the best news we have to share. The story of God through Jesus Christ has been summed up in many ways, but all the love, grace, mercy, faith, hope- can be summed up in this one verse.
The darkness, (cannot, will not, and) did not overcome the light.
The light of the world is coming this season, and we do need to adequately prepare. But we cannot ignore the darkness that comes with preparation, we cannot skip the tough, uncontrollable questions that come to us in the dark, for God is there too, ready to show us the way into the light.