Several years ago I was riding in the truck of an Episcopal cleric on a hot summer day. To my amazement, he turned on Christmas music. When I asked why, he replied, “I like Christmas music any time of the year.” For him it was just that simple. For me it didn’t feel right.
The summer before last I couldn’t believe it when I entered a local Christian craft store one July day and found nearly half the store had been converted into Christmas shopping aisles. And they were playing Christmas music. Preparing for Christmas in July? Was that necessary? Now I’m just as anxious as the next person to see Christmas arrive, but that REALLY didn’t feel right. Shouldn’t there be a time to get ready?
Well, there is. The Church has given us a season to prepare for the coming of the Lord. It’s called Advent, meaning “Coming.” I didn’t grow up in a church where Advent was celebrated, but I’ve since come to appreciate the four weeks before Christmas to help us get ready for the grand celebration of the birth of Christ and God’s fulfillment of his promise to send a Savior. The prophets foretold his coming, and we would do well to join God’s people from long ago in preparing our hearts for his Advent. The season of Advent has also helped us focus on another coming of the Lord, his Second Coming in glory, at a time no one knows and can predict exactly. So Advent reminds us to be ready each year for his coming at Bethlehem and to be ready at all times for his appearing again.
Let’s slow down just a bit in the season of Advent and give heed to the call of the prophets to be ready. We do that in a variety of ways here at All Saints’. For instance, in these first weeks of Advent, holiday decorations in the Chapel and divisions are predominately royal blue in color, saving Christmas red and images of the manger and baby Jesus for our last full week together before our Christmas break. Likewise, we intentionally preserve the singing of Christmas carols and hymns for our last week together, in order to celebrate Christmas as a school family, albeit a little early.
May we all remember the true reason for the season of Advent and prepare ourselves in a meaningful way for the glorious Christmas Season.