First United Presbyterian Church

Advent Is a Blessing

Advent wreath

Genesis 12:1-2

1I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.2I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Our families are surely blessed…but this can be a tough time of year even for the most blessed families. 

Women who take on the traditional role of Christmas magician may put in enough time that holiday preparations become the equivalent of a second full-time job. They may feel stressed and pressured, while also feeling responsible for making sure that everyone has a wonderful time, and they may struggle with feeling under appreciated or overburdened.

Men may have the same experience. If they have the traditional role in the celebrations, though, they might feel financially pressed or burdened with a “honey-do” list of things they don’t really care about but still have to participate in. 

Children may feel overstimulated, hyper excited, and at the same time pressured and maybe even a little neglected in the hustle and bustle. When Christmas Day arrives, they may feel let down because they have waited so long and the reality is not what they were imagining.

In fact, a lot of people feel overwhelmed in the run up to Christmas and then are in a hurry for it to end on Christmas Day. Their families didn’t get transformed into Instagram-worthy perfection, their expectations didn’t get met, and they feel a need to recover from Christmas, alongside their joy at the birth of Jesus. 

Observing Advent

Observing Advent can be the solution. The quiet, peaceful rituals of the Advent candles give a more measured pace to preparations. There is the sense of wonder, waiting, and longing, but it doesn’t focus on material goods or fantasy versions of our lives. The peaceful, contemplative music of Advent encourages love, faith, hope, and joy rather than covetousness and excess. 

We are encouraged to think of the needs of others, to live in a simpler way even as we enjoy our family and community traditions, and to contemplate the Trinity as much as we think about the miraculous Baby in the manger. This year, consider making Advent as important in your family as Christmas Day. It could be a true blessing.

Contributed by Rebecca Haden

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