An old abbot was fond of saying, "The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days." "The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all."
Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac, p. 196
How true these words seem to me. In a world of materialism and self-absorption, it is so true that I often get distracted and miss the gift of this season of preparation. I forget that Christ came to save me from loneliness, despair and futility. I forget to prepare my heart and to refocus my life.
Advent is an appropriate time to reexamine my life, to slow down and savor the truths held in each Christmas carol. I want to relish the Christmas story and the way this event can transform my life.
While Christmas may be celebrated as "the Sparkle Season" or a celebration of Santa Claus, it's very name indicates the origin of and reason for this special day. It is a day of incredible happiness as the human race is given the ultimate gift of sacrifice and love.
"For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him may not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
How can I make this Advent a meaningful season? Personally, I will focus on investing in each person I meet and making a conscious effort to add value to their lives, whether by a smile, a warm greeting, a listening ear or the gift of time or material assistance. I challenge you to consider what you might do. Husbands and wives might try speaking a word of appreciation to one another each day. Call or text a family member to share your love. Stop by your church and spend a few extra moments in quiet prayer.
As the prayer of St. Francis reminds us, "It is in giving that we receive".
What will you do to gain a greater appreciation of God's love for you? What will you do to reflect and share that love with others?