Advent Sunday is the New Year’s Day of the Christian Church, when we begin another “year of the Christian mysteries.” We can also use this season as a time to reflect on how we can also start anew.
Advent is a term from the Latin word 'adventus' which means "arrival" or "coming". It is a period of expectant waiting...
…a reminder of the original waiting of the Jews for the birth of their Messiah
... of our own waiting for the celebration of the arrival of the Lord into the world through the birth of Jesus
... and for the second coming of Christ.
Sometimes it seems like we're always waiting for something. When we are young, we are waiting to grow up. Even now, all grown up, we wait in line, in traffic, or we wait for more important things. Answers to prayers. How can we wait in a meaningful way?
The season of Advent is a good time to practice waiting with patience, humility, and expectant faith... a time to practice waiting prayerfully, much like the waiting of those expecting the Messiah long ago. We can start simply, just by waiting patiently as we wait in long lines this season.
We can also spend more time in prayer and scripture reading. I usually have an advent reflection guide like The Word Among Us. There are also Advent readings and prayers that go with the ceremony of lighting the Advent Wreath. Simple activities like these remind us what we are really celebrating when we celebrate Christmas.
Another way we can have a meaningful Advent is to delay, as long as possible, the celebration of Christmas. In the Philippines, it seems the Christmas season starts as soon as the "ber" months arrive. Christmas carols are played in the malls starting September 1! I usually put out the Christmas decorations on "Gaudete Sunday", the 3rd Sunday of Advent (this year it is on December 13). That is really late in this part of the world. One idea I found interesting was to put up the tree without the decorations, and have the ornaments in a basket under the tree. Every time a member of the family does a good deed, he/she gets to put an ornament the tree. Hopefully, the tree will be full on Christmas day.
Almsgiving is another meaningful way we can celebrate Advent. Sharing our resources and preparing gift bags for the less fortunate, for me, is a way to give Jesus a birthday gift. After all, he said "...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me". Matthew 25:40