Sunday, November 25, 2012
Advent--A New Beginning
Time to Start Anew
There are, I think, four times in our yearly cycle where we get the inner push to clean things out of our closets and our lives. The most obvious is the spring cleaning period. As the weather gets warmer and we look forward to welcoming in the sunshine, it suddenly seems like a good idea to give our homes and our souls, a thorough going-over before Easter.
Another natural time to think about making a new start are January 1 and early fall when our lives suddenly seem desperately in need of complete change--in January because of the ubiquitous "New Year's resolutions" and in September because of our years of in-grained beginning anew with the start of school each year. We always feel we have a new chance in life.
I think Advent is a natural fourth period of the year when we can make a new start. The Church is beginning a new year and is calling us to prepare for the coming of Christ in our lives. Just as we would prepare for a new baby to be born into our families, we can and should prepare our homes and our souls for His coming at Christmas.
Cleaning out our Closets
Advent is a new beginning, and we can make changes that we feel called to now, before the exhaustion of the "holiday season" makes it all but impossible to do in January. Many of us will be decorating our homes fairly extensively for the Christmas season. This involves getting boxes out of the attic or basement and putting away items to make room for Advent wreathes, manger scenes and Christmas trees. It is a natural time to clean out those closets and drawers that may have been neglected during the summer as we put things away and take things out in preparation for Advent and Christmas.
Our pantries may need cleaning and reorganizing as we stock up on baking and soup ingredients, whether for ourselves or for gifts for our loved-ones. Get out your crock pot and start Googling some recipes that will cook themselves either overnight or while you are at work.
We may need to reorganize our writing desks as we search for stamps, brightly colored pens and Christmas cards that we want to send.
Organizing our Spiritual Life
All these things are in preparation for getting our priorities in line for one of the busiest and, for Catholics, the most counter-cultural time of year. No, we don't celebrate Christmas starting the day after Thanksgiving. We have an entire 4-week season to prepare us for the birth of Christ. Yes, we do say, Merry Christmas and God Bless You.
For us, Advent is about preparing for the birth of Christ on Christmas. The Christmas Season is from Christmas Eve until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th (some celebrate it until Candlemas on February second.) The Christmas Season is not a buying season. It is a Christian season.
What will you do this year to prepare?