A couple of weeks ago, I went to the doctor for a quick check-up and she recommended that I get a flu shot. For many years I was the type of guy who would refuse such a suggestion and wear my refusal as a kind of badge of honor. In my mind, not getting a flu shot was a declaration of my confidence that I was healthy enough to stave off the flu on my own, thank you, so I would always say no, thank you, to the injection. Then I went into children’s ministry and quickly learned that I had a choice make: I could either follow the flu-season calendar and get a September shot or suffer a multiple-symptom sickness in October that might linger into Christmas. I chose to honor the season and get the shot.
In recent years I’ve begun to understand the church-season calendar in a similar way, especially as it pertains to Advent. The season of Advent provides a framework within which we can wrap our minds around the incarnation of God in Jesus and His appearance on the world stage for all the world to see. Along with Easter, Advent is the signal event that separates the church and its sure-footed faith in God’s presence from the questioning world-at-large. When Advent rolls around on the church calendar, and we celebrate its meaning, it reminds us that miracles are part of the every-day, inoculating us against the world-weary cynicism that can settle over us like a blanket of winter fog. No matter how difficult and dispiriting life can be, remembering the stories of Advent can cut through our discontent, lift our hearts, and carry us through to spring.
For the next five weeks, we will be making room for Advent to light our way through this deep winter. We’ll see how making room for the miraculous can make a difference in the way we look at our lives and our own hopes. We’ll ask why it is that only a suffering servant could ever become our risen Lord. We’ll rejoice in the progress of Jesus’ kingdom in the world, and challenge ourselves to trust in God to untangle the knots in our lives and make room for His peace. And on Christmas Eve we’ll draw the season of Advent to a close with the reminder that while there was no room at the inn for “God-with-us” to become one of us, a manger did just fine. So no one of us is too rough, too soiled, or too lowly to make room for him as well.
Advent is all about preparing for Jesus to come into our lives and give us a shot of renewed Faith, Joy, Peace, and Hope that can to lift us up and inoculate us against the ravages of a sometimes discouraging world. So let’s Make Room for Him in our hearts!
See you in church!