We have reached the busiest time of the year for most of us. We are preparing our homes with the decorations of the season. We are buying presents for our loved ones to give them at Christmas. We are making arrangements to host friends and family members. We are pulling together donations of winter clothes, food, and money as we remember those in our community and around the world who are in need. We are also preparing our hearts to celebrate the coming of Christ.
“Come thou long-expected Jesus.” Those are the words of the hymn we traditionally sing this time of year. They echo the prayers of our hearts, that Christ would continue to come to a world who desperately needs to know and see him at work. In the midst of all the preparations and celebrations of the season, it may be challenging for us to actually pause and reflect upon the ways that we have seen Christ at work in this past year.
It is fitting that the Season of Advent comes in the middle of our congregation’s season of vision. Advent is a season of waiting, watching, and listening for the Messiah. It requires finding time and space to contemplate God’s desires for this world, for our lives, and for our community of faith. During the “hustle and bustle” of this season, these are things we need to actively seek as we discern God’s path for our future.
We need to find time to focus on God’s voice. With all of the sounds of the season, it is important to seek out and enjoy silence. Like the prophet Elijah, we may need to filter out the noise and chaos to hear God in the silence and stillness. Like Christ, himself, we may need to remove ourselves, find space to be alone and to pray. Find time at the very beginning or end of the day to turn off the television, put down your phone, turn off all of the lights except for the Christmas tree and the fire, and take a moment to give thanks and to breathe. You may just hear God speaking to you.
As you are focus on God’s voice, listen for God’s will. The discernment process we are going through as a congregation is a model for us as individuals as well. We are committing to listening for God’s desires and to laying down our own. So go to the scriptures, and listen for the things that are loving, uplifting, and that may make the world a better place. Listen to how the example of Christ offers you a better way.
Once you have discerned God’s path, commit to following God’s way. If we truly celebrate the Messiah at Christmas, we must contemplate what difference his coming makes in our actual lives. How should our life be different because of Christ? Embracing this season makes life’s goal to do the things God desire us to do, nothing more, nothing else, nothing less.
As we continue to prepare for and celebrate this joyous season, remember to focus on God’s voice, listen for God’s will, and follow God’s way. Doing so will enable us each to thrive in the coming months and years as we live into God’s desires for our lives, our church, and our world.
Rev. W. Mattison King