One of the things I regularly try to teach and model for our family and parish is the value of reining in consumerism during Advent. It is so easy to get caught up in all the things we want to get our loved ones – creative, funny, thoughtful gifts to show our family, colleagues, and friends how much we appreciate them. But too often we spend too much, straining our budgets and our emotions instead of creating the spirit of joy giving the gifts intended.
This Advent, I have noticed the same pull happens with our time during Advent. Between shopping, work parties, school-related events, performances, and community events, we could be busy from sunup to sundown every weekend in December, not to mention weeknights. Just this past weekend in our town, there was a parade in the morning, events all day, a boat show in the evening, and fireworks on the second evening. There is a constant invitation to allow our time to be consumed, just like there is an invitation to allow our financial resources to be consumed.
So this past weekend, we chose one thing. Just one out of the four or five things we wanted to do. And you know what happened? Nothing! We reveled in the one event, savoring and enjoying it. And then we rested. We came home and trimmed the hearth, spent time together, and took naps. It was glorious!
Every year, the church invites us into a quiet, reflective Advent. Every year it sounds awesome. I get devotions, or activities to center the family, and about half-way through Advent we fizzle out because we are so exhausted from the running and stress. It wasn’t until this year, having taken the quieter weekend option that I realized what the church (and yes, even me from the pulpit!) has been inviting us to do. Be still. Keep watch. Take rest in the Lord. Not just for an hour on Sunday, but the whole of Advent. How might you make space this year, say “no” to a few things, spend less, and just be still, alert for the presence of God acting in your life? I suspect if you do, your new favorite season might just become Advent!