ADVENT IS A PROCESS, a process that comes loaded with peace a layer at a time. We can’t assemble our Christmas without engaging memories, tears, laughter, joy, and penetrating meaning. We wouldn’t hang lights from our rooftop if we weren’t prepared to consider the message we illuminate. We don’t put a wreath on our door or a manger scene on the table without retelling the ancient story of hope and of joy and of peace.
– Derek Maul
In My Heart I Carry a Star: Stories for Advent
Blue is the color for preparation towards Christmas. In the Christian year there are two seasons I can recall which has a distinctive build up towards a climax. The Lenten Season is one where we have 4 Sundays before the Holy Week leading up to Good Friday and rising up on Easter Sunday. The other is the Advent Season with 4 Sundays represented by the lighting of 4 candles moving towards Christmas.
Someone told me last night he felt that I started the reflective preparation part early as compared to stumbling into January this year. I would agree with him. Indeed, somehow I feel a strong sense to pull back somewhat even though there are 101 things lined up for me from my family to church ministry and beyond.
While I’m working hard to make space for some reflection personally, I have also integrated the consciousness of it in my work with the ministry team core members as well as the council, the children have also been included as much as possible whenever I am at home before they sleep, all the pre-agreed responsibilities are still ever before me.
Sometimes one might wish we can just drop everything and hide in a mountain retreat centre. And I am looking forward to head to the highlands after Christmas 🙂 but the challenge for me this Advent season is to work through the process while still deeply engaged in the ministry before me. There’s no luxury at least this season to run away and slip into hermit existence. I can’t any way with three lively kids in constant need for attention. Let’s not forget I have one wife too! 🙂
So rather than complain about the 101 things I need to do, and 101 hats I am wearing, my limited energies are devoted to what is before me. God and a few good friends have been kind to hear me out when necessary. Keeping things inside often makes one unclear and cluttered emotionally and mentally. So, after unloading the stuff inside, then I can be freer to continue this Advent Process with direction and focus.
There are many layers to pay attention to. Patience is crucial and so is a cool head. Last night, two of us were talking about the way people see their work as in whether it’s a job or a career or calling/vocation.
For me, the moment we want to move into any discussion around the idea of calling and vocation, we will need to be as aware of ourselves as much as possible, our intentions and motivations, our passions and vision, our strengths and weaknesses, our inner life and outer relationships, etc. A lot of the hidden stuff needs to be brought up to the surface so we can indeed discover meaning in who we are and what we do, as well as find others who desire to walk a similar path . we are called a people of the way.
This season is to prepare the way . anyway. So, I think I’m on the right track. Good to know I’m not alone. There seems to be many hidden in their own caves who need to come out of hiding and say, “hey! You are not alone, there are many more who have not bowed to the idol of merely existing for personal pleasures and self gratification. There must be something more and a better way . and we want to go there!”
Thank you God, for Advent . where our waiting for your coming is not a passive pointless waiting. It’s a waiting with expectation, with hope and with openness to respond to your call.