I’m a really disorganised person, so I love to have lots of time to prepare. I’m one of those people that has to write list after list to make sure I, and everything I need, are all in the right place at the right time. I’ve been known to take a full 24 hours to prepare for people’s arrival. So, it’s no surprise that I love Advent.
The run up to Christmas tends to bring out a sense of childish hope, joy and anticipation in me. The sights and the smells, the early nights where darkness is dispelled by warm twinkling lights, the smell of ginger bread, the rosy cheeks and the mornings where you can see your breath. When the young at heart eagerly anticipate snow fall and sleigh bells and instantly you’re transported to childhood Christmases and tearing off wrapping paper from brightly coloured toys. Hugs and kisses, big dinners and indulgent desserts and then all of a sudden it’s over.
Somewhere a long the way, maybe it’ll take me a couple more years, that childish fantasy gives way to stress, timings and deadlines. From the weary to the wired looking, the closer to Christmas it gets the busier the shops are. Last minute gifts being wrapped once the children have gone to bed, and then it’s up early to get the turkey in the oven.
The older I get the more people try to dampen my Christmas spirit. What I love about the season is the pure and childish hope and expectation. The wide eyed joy and excitement, and that’s what makes Advent so perfect. We must prepare for the joy we are about to receive and not just by putting the tree up and buying loads of presents.
It always intrigues me how a secular society adopts Christmas and Easter and disregards sin. There is something innate and indisputable about our need for saving. We are desperate for the help, that salvation, but reject the very reason we need it and, worse, we reject the reason we can have it. I once dated a boy who wasn’t religious (I know, right) and I went to his house during the spring to find Easter eggs in his kitchen. I was baffled, I wont lie. He tried and tried to explain and all I could respond was “yeah, but why?”.
People seem so preoccupied with their need to be saved, or to be validated, to be happy or safe, and yet they perpetuate their need with sin. Refusing to acknowledge it, let alone turn away from it.
We are sinners. By are very nature, we are fragile. I can not stand people who think that they’re own sins are less abhorrent than the next person. People who block out their own sin, in order to gossip and look down their nose at the sins of others. We are all weak, and we all need to be saved. Sin is destructive and it lives in all of us.
As part of our Advent preparations on Gallagher Street this year we’ve been making a Jesse Tree. I love Jesse Trees because I love a good story and the Old Testament is full of them. All those tales of sin, rage, plagues, passion, sacrifice, love and fights, they all culminate with one story on Christmas day. The very last picture to adorn the top of our Jesse Tree is a small candle, to signify the light of the world.
This is the true meaning of what it is to prepare. The destructive nature of sin leaves us all in darkness and, just as the lights that adorn our homes and streets dispel the darkness in the night, God is sending down His Son to save us. That salvation we are all craving. God is made incarnate, born of the Virgin Mary, raised as any child to walk our earth as a human. He knew our pain, He knew our sufferings and He saved each and everyone one of us.
This is our true gift, the joy of Christ. We are being called into hope and love. In order to answer this call, we must prepare.
Just to leave you with one more thing that I love about Christmas, this one verse of my favourite carol;
Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Merry Christmas, God bless xo