Do not fear, Mary. You have found favor with God.
You shall conceive and bear a son…
From Luke 1:30-31
Advent 2020 begins this Sunday. I was reluctant to type “2020” as this year to date has been challenging at best. Advent usually urges us to make time in our holiday frenzy to engage in the joyful anticipation of Christmas. Most years, this is difficult because there’s just so much to do! This year will be very different. Our efforts to limit errands to the essentials and to avoid crowds have probably already inspired a good deal of online shopping. We’re also likely paring down our Christmas gatherings to our immediate families. As I look ahead, I wonder what there is to joyfully anticipate in all of this…
As soon as I typed that last sentence, images from my visit to the Holy Land filled me up. As I recall the unearthed homes which were part of Jesus’ neighborhood in Nazareth, I’m immediately reminded that life wasn’t easy for Mary and Joseph either. They lived under an often combative government which considered the needs of the people a low priority. The temple hierarchy was often inclined to do the same. Mary and Joseph prepared for Jesus’ birth in the midst of tough circumstances.
Perhaps Year 2020 is the perfect year to recapture the spirit with which Mary and Joseph approached that first Christmas. Perhaps we can focus a bit less upon what we can’t do and can’t have and celebrate what we can do and what we do have. In the face of all that we’ve been through this year, we might spend Advent 2020 paving a safe and content path to Christmas.
Loving God, in spite of our struggles, help us to take joyful steps to Christmas Day.
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