As soon as Thanksgiving is over it seems as if Christmas has begun. Christmas does not begin until December 25, so right off the bat, we are faced with a challenge.
The first Sunday of Advent begins like this, with these words from the prophet Jeremiah:
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
God is coming to fulfill God's promise, of that we can be assured. But what about the waiting? Perhaps in the second reading, from St. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, we might find our way in the waiting.
Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts...
As we wait, we do not wait passively. God asks us to wait in ways that increase and abound in love. But there is a catch - for one another and for all. Now there is the hard part. So we have to wait, that's hard enough, but we have to love one another and all? Is this possible?
It is possible if we are willing, and perhaps that is part of the waiting, the engaged waiting of God's love in us. It is like a winter garden, with things planted within us by God, nurtured with patience, prayer, and hope. In this time of slowed down quiet, perhaps we can unclench the tight fist of our own heart, loosen our constricted jaws of our soul, opening up a window of Advent hope. Into that Advent window, as we patiently wait and watch, the sun of God's love provides the growth to make room in our hearts.
That room is meant to welcome and house Jesus, but for it to do so, it means openness to others. Especially others who might disturb, frighten, annoy, or anger us in some way.
The days are coming and we wait. And as we wait, we do in sync with God's love. It is only through God's love that we prepare a place for the only one who can save us, Christ our Lord.