This year, the number of days in this holiday season are the shortest it possibly can be. 27 days. Just 27 days separate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Perhaps, As a result this begins to explain how and why retailers have combated the unusually short shopping window by putting out Christmas merchandise even earlier than normal.
Completely unrelated to the state of my shopping list, this year it seems as though December and the First Week of Advent have completely crept up on my feeling overwhelmed and unfocused.
There’s a certain sense of frenzy that comes with the end-of-the-year. Not that it’s all bad. There’s the excitement of preparing for family who visits, holiday parties to catch up with long time friends and a promises of holiday vacations to exotic places. There’s nothing wrong with that, being busy is just simply a part of life. However, it’s so easy to get caught up in the sales, specials and Christmas music on the radio starting after Halloween that in a blink of an eye Advent and Christmas have come and gone.
In some ways Lent seems so much easier when it becomes to preparing ourselves. There is a tradition of fasting, penance and creating personal challenges to center our prayer lives on the upcoming death and resurrection of Jesus. But what about Advent? How can we make Advent equally spiritually significant?
As I was thinking about the upcoming season and how I wanted to make it something special, I’ve been pulled back to this simple idea of how Advent should be an opportunity to transform us from the inside out. I know the aspects of my faith that need a little work and I’ve come up with a way to do something extra that will be the just the beginning of the journey.
In the spirit of preparing ourselves for Advent and Christmas, each contributor will include an Advent challenge in their post. These are an opportunity to further prepare for the Christmas celebration. Feel free to let us know if you like them or have other suggestions for Advent challenges – we’d love to hear them!
Today’s Advent Challenge. As you prepare your heart and your table for the arrival of Christ Jesus, keep in mind the words we heard in yesterday’s Gospel reading.
“Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Mt 24:42-44