The stores are dressed for Christmas shopping hoping to attract the cash flow they need to stay open during this financial crunch.
It is difficult to focus on Advent in a culture so focused on gifting-giving and parties. I wonder what this will mean for us in a year when over 25,000 homes have foreclosed and when so many people have lost their jobs and now struggle to meet their financial commitments. Many people have seen ½ of their financial portfolios disappear in the financial crisis hitting our country.
Maybe all of this will give us a year to focus on Advent – that time of quiet reflection in preparation of our hearts, minds and souls for Christmas. I think of the culture 2000 years ago in the middle-east when the Jewish people were anticipating a Messiah – one who would come to liberate them from the oppression of their political and economic burdens. They too wanted a leader who would restore them to being a powerful influence in their world.
I find myself wondering “what are we waiting for?” “What expectations do we have this year?” The gift of Christmas has already come into our world. Emmanuel is indeed with us already. The Gift that is Christmas is already among us. Perhaps this Advent waiting is more an experience of awakening to what has already happened. And so my questions are now ‘What are we seeking?” “Where are we looking?” “How can my awakening during Advent transform the world in which I live?”
I invite us to ponder these questions, not just with our minds, but with our hearts as we journey into and through this Advent Season.