Our theme throughout Advent is “A Place of Refuge in the Madness of the Season.” The countdown has begun, the Black Friday sales data is in, and as I write this I receive the latest Cyber Monday deals. My house is half-decorated. My presents are half-bought. My plans are half-made. And yet, I am happy it is Advent. I don’t know about you, but I am almost thankful for the madness of the season and the never-ending to-do lists for the distraction they provide from world events and political debates.
Yet, that is not why Advent gives me great joy. The refuge of Christmas is not a retreat to the mall, and our hopes for the world are not going to be granted by a right jolly old elf. Advent brings deep and abiding solace as we prepare our lives and our hearts to welcome Christ. The first Sunday of Advent, we heard a message of hope that God comes to us in unexpected places like Bethlehem. The second Sunday of Advent, we will hear a message of peace that comes when we, as unlikely to be God’s agents as Mary and Joseph, are obedient to God’s will. The third Sunday of Advent we will hear again the joy that is ours when we, like John the Baptist, recognize that Christ is present. And the fourth Sunday of Advent we will hear God’s loving invitation to worship the Christ child…an invitation to all, whether shepherd or wise man.
Throughout Advent, I invite you to experience the refuge from the madness…whatever madness you are experiencing…and prepare your life and your heart to receive the promise of refuge from the world that God offers to you.