Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This Sunday we cross the center mark of Advent with the 3rd Sunday of Advent.
So, how’s your Advent going? By this point before Christmas, many of us usually feel weary and worn out from making plans for all the Christmas celebrations that are already going on. It is so easy to get caught up in all of this and we don’t take time to prepare our hearts for remembering Jesus’ birth because we’ve been so busy with the trappings of this season, all those things that our culture says is Christmas—decorating, planning meals, attending parties, cleaning house for guests, preparing for family gatherings, providing treats for school celebrations, rehearsing for Christmas performances, traveling, studying, working, and more.
The busyness of the Christmas season can easily overshadow Advent and the waiting we are called to do to prepare our hearts for the awesome God event of the Christ child, the very Son of God who was born to set us free from sin.
What can help calm the racing feeling that the culture pushes down our throats in preparing for Christmas? What can settle our anxious hearts? What can slow us down enough to look around and realize that we do not need to worry about anything, but by prayer and thanksgiving we can know the peace of God.
Paul tells us in this passage that the LORD, our God, is with us and his peace passes all our understanding. We don’t have to wait for God by planning parties and feasts. We simply must realize that God is already here with us and we can REJOICE in God’s presence as we wait for the day of remembering and celebrating his birth. Christmas is not about all the gift giving, the big feasts we plan, or the parties we attend. It is a glorious sign of God’s peace by his presence in human form that came to us to save us from our sin.
It’s good to honor the spirit of Advent and retell the story of waiting for the Messiah. It’s good to remember the ancient tale of how Jesus came to earth as a human baby. It’s good to recall how the Jewish people waited with hope for the Messiah, and to recognize the utter joy that was felt in heaven and on earth when he was born. But let’s never forget that Jesus is here right now, in our midst. We don’t have to rush around so much that our stress levels rise out of control. We don’t have to make sure every cookie or dessert is perfect or every room of our home completely spotless. We don’t have to be certain that each person on our gift list gets exactly what he or she wants. We can recall and retell and honor the blessed story of Jesus’ birth, but we don’t have to wait for Baby Jesus to be born. Christ is already here, offering his peace to guard our hearts and minds.
Jesus said, “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)
So take a deep breath and let the Holy Spirit of Jesus calm your wearied nerves so you can wait with patience and peace to celebrate His coming into our world, and his gift of love and forgiveness to you and yours.
- How do you feel about the season of Advent? What is helpful about the idea of waiting for Jesus Christ to come at Christmas?
- How’s your Advent going? What is your prime feeling right now as Christmas Day approaches? Why?
- What helps you to sense Jesus’ presence during Advent?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.