Not Carole King, not the Heinz Ketchup commercial, but Advent and the whole season, 24 days, is making us wait for Christmas. While people sincerely wish me a Merry Christmas, and advertisements slam my social media feeds, and fights break out over Santa Clause Houses, what the decorations look like this year and the calendar filling up with Christmas activities, a little piece of my heart and soul yearns for the peace, hope, joy and love of pure Advent. I have visions of calm and bright starry nights, the sound of logs crackling in the fireplace, and the taste of the first snowflakes on my lips; I yearn for the sound of peace on earth, goodwill toward all.
We cannot help ourselves to be caught up in the commercialization of Christmas. The frenetic pace of gift buying, cookie baking, and soiree attending, make some people swoon with joy and others cringe Grinch like. I find myself caught in the middle, I love the gatherings of people who I love. The smell of evergreens and gingerbread fling me back to my childhood. The combos of peppermint and chocolate, eggnog and bourbon, Santa and the Mrs., are the pairings of the season. The holiday season. Maybe that is what I will call this time of untethered everything.
Advent, on the other hand, is the opposite kind of joy. It begins officially Sunday, December 2. The color of the altar cloths is blue, if you are Protestant, purple if you are Catholic. The scripture teaching often come from the Old Testament with the prophesying of a New King to be born, God with Us, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Savior, Jesus the Christ, the Light of the world. We hope for new beginnings, and a new creation. It takes a while for us to understand that the change comes from, and is born in the manger of our heart. Birthing is hard work, but it is so worth it.
Taking time to savor Advent is a worthwhile endeavor. I encourage you to give this gift to yourself to strengthen your faith and savor the anticipating of love being born for the sake of the world. Many churches have daily resources for you to use, perhaps a devotional guide, or daily prayer. There are social media resources too, Advent Conspiracy and AdventWord on Facebook are two easy ways to engage in an Advent activity that does not involve money or commercialism. Reading Luke 1-2, and specifically Mary’s Magnificent  1:46-55, are great scriptural texts to read over and over, looking for ways in which God shows up to uncover more truth about who God in Flesh really is.
The Advent season starts on the first Sunday of December and lasts for about four weeks. THEN it is Christmas, and that season lasts 12 days. My hope for you is that you find a community who engages in Advent the season of preparation, the season of peace, hope, joy and love! This week, we light the Peace candle, I cannot wait!
-Noblesville’s Teri Ditslear is a pastor whose column appears Saturdays in The Times. Contact her at pastor@rolcommunity.com, on Facebook or at www.rolcommunity.com