The whole purpose of these Advent reflections has been to help us find intimacy with God in the midst of everyday life. So we have focused on using the background times of our days to create an inner atmosphere that allows us to wait, to hope, to come into contact with our longing and our desire.
This year the Fourth Week of Advent is six days long with Friday evening being Christmas Eve and Saturday Christmas Day. Perhaps we can use these days to try to heighten our awareness of whatever is going on in our lives these days and how that can bring us to Christmas. Some examples may help.
So many of us experience the ironic reality that Christmas can be the most lonely time of our lives. Some of these ‘mixed feelings’ or ‘sad feelings’ are difficult to recognize or name.
For some of us, the Christmas we will celebrate this year pales in comparison to wonderful Christmases of our past for many reasons. Some of our loved ones who were central to our living are not where I am. Perhaps I am dealing with an illness, which leaves me tired and unable to cope with the energetic joy of the day.
For some of us, Christmas will be just another day. Unable to let go of pressures, unable to go out to Church to be with a faith community and without family or friends to be with, Christmas will be a day we are tempted to ignore.
For some of us, Christmas challenges us with large financial burdens. Children today become victims of the gross commercial exploitation of the day. For those of us struggling to make ends meet on a day-to-day basis, feeling the cultural pressure of buying for our children things which we can’t afford can lead us to put more debt on the credit card in ways that simply push us further behind.
Some of us, might be really looking forward to Christmas, and not be aware of these struggles with Christmas, yet feel, that, in spite of our best efforts to make Advent different this year, there is still something missing and we still feel un-ready for Christmas.
For all of us, the story behind these days can draw us in, and invite us to bring our lives to the mystery of how Jesus came into the mystery of how Jesus came into this world and why. Our best preparation for the Holy Night ahead and the Joyful Morning to follow is for us to reflect upon how he came. He came in the midst of scandal and conflict. He came in povery. He was rejected before he was born. He was born in a feed trough. He was hunted down and he grew up in obscurity.
Our Saviour did not shun our world and its poverty and conflict. He embraced it. Jesus desires to embrace us today, in this day right where we are, right where we are feeling most distant, right where we are feeling least “religious” and “ready”.
If we let him come into our hearts to be our Saviour these challenging days, we will find ourselves entering the sacred night and morning of Christmas “joyful and triumphant” as never before.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come and visit your people.
We await your coming. Come , O Lord.