Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” –John 14:27
There are two seasons taking place right now. Both are filled, in part, by hope and expectation. Both have music and holly and sparkling lights. One is the Holy Season of Advent, the other is the Christmas Shopping Season. Both seasons are building up to December 25th. We live in both seasons at once, but they are not the same.
The Christmas Shopping Season is an anxious place. It is anxious because it all depends on you. You have to buy the presents. You have to go to the party. You have to send the cards. You have to cook the food and hang the lights. You have to pay the bills You have to make sure not to forget anyone. If you mess up, people will get their feelings hurt. Will you have enought time, enough energy, enough money? It’s enough to make you crazy.
Advent, on the other hand, is a peaceful place. It is peaceful because none of it depends on you. Christ came, and you can’t change that. Christ is coming, no matter what you do. You can participate by choosing to pray for his grace, by choosing to keep your eyes open. But, whether you do or not, he is likely to come and be right where you are. He comes and makes you sane.
You and I experience two seasons at once. We live in Advent and the Christmas Shopping Season. By God’s grace, we can focus on one more than another. We can set aside a little anxiety today and ask for a little more peace. Perhaps, a little at a time, we may find ourselves living for a minute, or an hour, or even a full day completely in the Holy Season.
Henri Nouwen, one of my personal heroes, wrote a prayer that speaks to where we are. I would like to share it with you. I commend it to your use in midst of these seasons.
An Advent Prayer
by Henri Nouwen
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do, seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things
look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy, seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking light.
To you we say, Come Lord Jesus….
Thomas McKenzie is the author of The Anglican Way, a book he describes as a traveler’s guide to the Anglican tradition, as well as The Harpooner, an Advent reader featuring harpoons—how awesome is that. He graduated from the University of Texas and attended seminary at the Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1998 and planted the Church of the Redeemer in Nashville in 2004, where he is the still pastor. He’s also keeps samurai swords in his office, and wears a skull ring.
Thank you so much for this posting. For years the stress and anxiety of Christmas has dogged me to where I despair to see it coming. As a Christ follower so few understand that Christmas is not Advent. In fact most in the church rebuke me for how I begin to feel. The simplicity of your words ring so true for me and I am sure others.
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