Advent 2020

Thanksgiving 2020 is history and here we are now, some of us with turkey and cranberry still on our breath, facing the First Sunday of Advent this weekend...

The change in colors and an Advent wreath will remind us that we’re entering a new season on the church calendar.
But I’m wondering about some other seasons. Not the seasons marked and announced on calendars, rather, I’m wondering about the seasons of our hearts…

My heart has seasons.  I’ll bet yours does, too.

My heart has many seasons:  some last only a few days; others drag on for weeks and months. The seasons of my heart may –or may not- coincide with nature’s seasons.

And so it is that my heart might enjoy a summery warmth in the middle of January, or feel the nip of a cold-shouldered frost in early August. My heart might grieve and my tears drop like falling leaves in the spring time, while peace might bloom like a rose in late November.  The seasons of the heart pay little attention to the weather report and none at all to the calendar.

These inner seasons come and go year ‘round with high and low pressure systems that shape my heart’s climate. So, as we enter the season of Advent this weekend (with Christmas and a new year just around the corner) I’m wondering what seasons are weathering our souls, yours and mine, today?

Is it summer, fall, winter or spring in our heart of hearts?  Is my heart getting ready for Christmas- or wary of its approach?  Whatever the clime within us, we bring our hearts, just as they are, to Advent, to a season of preparing the way for Jesus to enter our hearts and our lives.

Like the seasons of our souls, Jesus pays no attention to the weather or the calendar. In any and every season he's ready to make his home within us to warm what’s chilled; to put our grief to rest; to refresh what has wilted; and to stir up life new life and spirit.  An inner season of worry and fear may keep me from lifting my heart in Christmas joy.  I may not yet be ready to surrender my grief to healing.  My heart may be too blue to think of new beginnings.  But no matter.  Regardless of the climate or the mood in my heart or yours, Jesus comes to us in season and out of season, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, in hope and hopelessness,
in sorrow and in joy...

When I need him the most - and when I least expect him - Jesus is coming into my heart and yours.  And not just at Christmas, not just in Advent, not just in December, but 24/7/365. 

Many of us, especially the younger among us, are looking forward to Christmas with great and joyful anticipation. Some of us… not so much and that’s understandable.

But there begins this weekend  a season inviting all our hearts to open up and prepare a way for the Lord to enter.  

  • A season to remember, with Jeremiah,
    tha the days are coming when the Lord will fulfill his promise to keep us safe and secure.
  • A season to remember, with St. Paul, the Lord’s desire to strengthen our hearts in love, to help us lead lives pleasing to God.
  • A season to keep vigil for signs of Jesus’ coming, not so much in the sun, the moon and the stars, but in our hearts in the midst of all our troubles and joys.
  • Advent: a time meant to prepare us to weather all the seasons of our hearts, whatever the season of our hearts at the moment.

The “holiday season” all around us, the “commercial season” tapping our bank accounts, the “social season” of decorations, gifts and gatherings – may or may not be particularly beneficial in helping us welcome Jesus into our hearts.

What is helpful is finding some quiet time in Advent to sit with the Lord in prayer,  sharing with him the signs and the sighs of whatever season prevails in your heart and mine just now.

What’s least helpful is buying, consuming  and filling up on everything!  Rather, what we need is to empty ourselves and make room for Jesus to come into our hearts and make himself to home there.

That’s what Christmas is all about: Jesus, coming to make his home among us and within us.  What’s helpful is avoiding extravagance,over-indulgence in giving more and more to those who already have so much (too much?)and instead, focusing on doing whatever we can to reach out to those who have so little and need so much.

So, whatever the season in your heart or mine, the question is, how will we welcome the season of Advent?  Will we enter a season of preparing to welcome the presence and the peace of Jesus?  Will we try to spend at least part of the next four weeks focusing not so much on things whose shelf-life is so short but on those realities that can and do last forever

The greatest Christmas gift ever given or received is God’s gift of love to us in Jesus: in his gospel, in his death and resurrection, and in the sacrament of his presence at his table, at the altar, in the eucharist.  

As we gather for Advent this  weekend, may our prayer and God's Spirit  change the seasons of our hearts to welcome Jesus
who comes to bring us a season of healing, a season of hope, a season of peace and a season of joy...