Like many of you, I love the Christmas season; it's an excuse to make the winter season extra cozy, with candles and twinkle lights, sipping hot chocolate and baking cookies. It is also a time that seems to get busier by the day, with scheduled parties, activities, shopping and end-of-year to-do lists.
About a decade ago, I went to an advent carol concert at my church. I was ready to sing all my favorite songs: Joy to the World, Gloria in Excelsis, and Silent Night….but I was surprised and disappointed by the somber atmosphere of the evening. There were too many hymns in minor chords and even the sanctuary’s lighting was dim. “Christmas is about celebrating not lamenting,” I thought.
All the advent activities in which I’d participated in the past had been about increasing the joy of the Christmas season—craft-making, tree-trimming, and Christmas gift-buying. This hymn sing-along wasn’t jolly; it was sad. I was so upset by the lack of joy in the songs during the month of Advent at my church, that I even mentioned something to the worship pastor, “Can’t this season be happier?” I complained. He understood something, I had yet to appreciate; it’s tempting to skip over the darkness of the Advent season, and head straight for celebration, but in doing so we miss the opportunity to tell the truth—that life is full of struggles and disappointments interspersed with moments of joy and peace, and Christ meets us in the midst of it all.
Advent, the period of four weeks before Christmas, is about preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ. In order to prepare ourselves for Christ, (his birth, his presence in our lives, and Jesus’ second coming) we must be honest about our lived experience—our despair and our hope, our trials and our victories. Advent is a time to lament what is broken in the world and in ourselves. It is also a time to hope, believing the promises of God will come to fruition.
Prayerful Reflections is an Advent devotional of daily reflections (from November 28 through Epiphany) written by a diverse group of female Christian leaders from around the world. This devotional is an opportunity to pause daily during the hectic holiday season and take time to read, reflect, respond and rest with the Word of God. It is an invitation to lament the darkness in our world and seek out the light that breaks through that darkness.
Amongst the major and minor chords of our life’s soundtrack, Advent happens, and we have a choice to stop and listen to what God might be singing over us, or be carried along with the busy rhythm of the season. My prayer is that by prayerfully reading through the reflections of these 30 authors, we can prepare ourselves, not just for Christmas, but also for Christ.
Download the PDF version of the devotional here, or read along on the blog every day from November 28th through January 6th.