Advent is the season to reflect, not deflect

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving already is in the rear-view mirror and on the road ahead is a short distance to Advent. Of course, Christmas will be upon us before we know it. The days are indeed darker earlier, and the Christmas-present advertising blitz has been in full gear since Halloween.

This time of the year has a tendency to speed right by us — as it can every year — leaving us in a pile of tinsel, pine needles, presents and maybe even debt.

From the pulpits, the pastors and priests proclaim the true meaning of Christmas. We talk much about waiting and watching in the weeks of Advent that begin Dec. 3.

We urge our friends and families to slow down and not get so caught up in the consumerism of Christmas, instead to focus our view on the Messiah’s coming. And yet another Christmas season goes by the same as it ever was.

What are we missing? Are we really waiting and watching as Matthew tells us: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour,” (Matt. 25.13) Waiting and watching are actions that take great patience. How then does Christmas get here in such a blur?

Are we really watching and waiting, or are we caving to all the distractions? After all, watching and waiting is hard work. Maybe it’s boring in this on-demand culture we’ve both built and subscribed to.

What would it take, then, to be conscious of the ebb and flow of Advent — so that we can build up to Christmas gradually and make that awakening from darkness into light something deeply meaningful for us?

Start here: Rather than merely flipping through an Advent calendar and reading a six-word Bible verse, begin reading the Nativity narrative (Matthew 1:18-25) or, better, study the daily office readings for the Advent season. (Here is one online: Your pastor or priest could recommend several.

One of the aspects I enjoy in these Advent devotions is that we not only read Scripture, but the devotions call us into action: writing a letter to someone you want to lift up; calling on someone who might be lonely this time of year; going for a meditative walk in nature; making a card to send to a friend…

If we can take time every day to read and meditate on the word, to think about how to be the light in the world, and to do something that will bring happiness to others, we will feel each day of Advent, knowing that something is happening, something is changing in us. Then, in building up to Christmas, we can see how the light that is being brought into the world happens exponentially through us with the power of the Holy Spirit.

So rather than watching this wonderful season go by in a red and white blur, let’s embrace this season of Advent, truly waiting and watching for Christ’s brilliance to come.


Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Pastor Christopher Passante of Trinity United Methodist Church in Bellefonte, where daily Advent devotionals can be found on the church’s website