by Merianna Harrelson
As part of our Christmas celebration, my aunt in California would send my siblings and me Advent Calendars. These particular Advent Calendars had chocolate behind the doors as you counted down the days to Christmas. It wouldn’t be until later that I would discover that Advent Calendars didn’t all have chocolate. In Germany, there were calendars that had toys, gummies, and all kinds of other surprises behind the doors.
In our house growing up, we had two such decorations that helped us count the days until Christmas. One was a Christmas Tree with enough ornaments to hang for each day until Christmas; another a manager scene with stars for each day (except there were two that we never could find) with the biggest star being for December 25 that hung directly over the manager.
This counting and waiting for Christmas to come, whether with chocolate or stars or ornaments, is an important part of Advent. It is in the waiting and the anticipating that we prepare our hearts and mind for the Christ Child. It is in the waiting and the anticipating that we remember that the birth of this Child changed everything.
Now, the waiting and anticipating that we do is for this season to be over. We hurry from one celebration to another exhausted because of all the commitments we have. If we prepared our hearts and minds for this Advent season as we did our homes and our presents, what difference would it make in our experience?
I’d be willing to bet that if our preparation was more about awaiting and remembering the Christ Child, our time during this Advent season would be filled feeding those who are hungry, stopping to help someone figure out the self-checkout process, and clothing those who need warmth and hope this season.
The coming of the Christ Child reminds us:
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.