“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style…in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas…”
Most years, I’m gladly swept up into the season of Christmas carols, Advent wreaths, and my personal favorite: Hallmark Christmas movies. But, something about this year, these last 12 months of the news, social media, acts of terror, heavy hearts I’ve seen and prayed with while doing ministry, is causing me to instead take a pause. It causes me to sit quietly for a moment and really consider this last year; to internalize what is happening in our world and in my heart as I enter deeper into this season of Advent.
We, over at The Vigil Project, have been praying through this season in light of our totally imperfect circumstances. As we travel around the country this December praying and praising with the grassroots church, preparing our own hearts for the Lord’s coming at Christmas, it is so easy to internalize our own shortcomings and problems and also take on the problems of those around us. It is so easy to allow our burdens to steal our joy. Because now, perhaps more than in years past, it is clear that our world is simply broken. Our circumstances are broken. Our hearts are broken. Our families are broken. Maybe our finances are broken. Our vehicles might be broken. (Snow in the Midwest, need I say more?!) My temptation is taking the weight of the world onto my own shoulders. My temptation is to fear.
And yet, this is exactly the opposite of what today’s readings remind us about our faithful Lord:
“He will be gracious to you when you cry out,
as soon as he hears he will answer you.
The Lord will give you the bread you need
and the water for which you thirst.”
Instead of being burdened by our brokenness this season, perhaps the focus should be on waiting in a joyful hope for our Savior, who comes to save us.
Truth be told, sometimes I battle finding the balance in viewing the Christmas carols, the recipes, the gifts, and my beloved list of Hallmarks as pulling me in a juxtaposing direction to preparing my heart for Christmas. But I have come to find that the magic and the wonder and the sparkles, they speak to something incredibly sacred stamped upon our hearts in an evermore secularizing world. There’s something Divine about this season, and it doesn’t matter how commercialized, materialistic, or non-religious the attempts become. Advent and Christmas ARE, by their very nature, kissed by the Divine. They ARE sacred. They ARE His. Just as WE are His.
He knows our every burden, our every stress, our every area of brokenness. Perhaps, this year, the Lord desires us to know that He hears us and He WILL answer. He, alone, can provide for our every need. He comes, indeed, to save us all as only a Savior can.
Andrea Thomas is a founding member and artist with The Vigil Project, a community of artists, musicians, and filmmakers that produce multimedia resources for an authentic encounter with God and growth in prayer.