Leaving lunch yesterday, a friend mentioned how hard it’s been for him to get Advent to “take” this year.
I can relate: Seems like the flurry of Thanksgiving hadn’t even settled when the holy season began. (Heck, Turkey Day itself is barely recognizable these days, its ramparts quivering under the relentless assault of Wal*Mart and its big-box kin. But I digress.)
To be sure, the demands of the “holiday” season mount quickly – shopping to do, donations to make, family gatherings to plan, parties to attend. Advent doesn’t stand much of a chance against such an onslaught. In some cases, it even seems to have joined the other side: “It’s Not Too Late—Sign Up for Best Advent Ever!” urged one breathless email I received this week.
Nor was the gospel reading we heard last Sunday – brimming with apocalyptic imagery – much help in terms of calibrating my Advent mood.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
I guess it’s an Advent message – so long as you remember to keep listening until Jesus delivers the punch-line: ‘…stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.’
The tide began to turn for me this morning, though, when I encountered the words of Psalm 149 during my morning prayer:
Let Israel rejoice in its Maker;
Let Sion’s children exult in their king.
Let them praise God’s name with dancing,
And make music with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people…
What a remarkable concept: to chew on the notion that ‘the Lord takes delight in his people.’ That God takes delight in me.
If you think about it, this is precisely the mystery we are called to contemplate during Advent: Our all-powerful God…the Lord of the Cosmos…does not cling to Godliness.
Instead, God chooses to become one of us. More than that, God enters our world as an infant.
It’s nearly impossible to wrap your mind around that idea…until you consider the truth of what the Psalmist says: The Lord really does take delight in us.
What better way to prove the point…than to come to us as an infant? In the form of Someone who has little—beyond delight—to give us at the time of his birth?
So if we want Advent to “take” in our hearts…we might do well to meditate on this profound mystery in the coming weeks. And then, perhaps, spend some quality time simply returning the gaze.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.