By Jessica Brodie
When I was a kid, preparing for Christmas involved a whole lot of me, myself and I—what I wanted to receive for Christmas, where my family was going to celebrate Christmas, you get the picture.
In my early adulthood, I began to crave a more meaningful season, but I was still focused more on Christmas morning (and decorations and gifts and parties).
But now, I’ve come to realize that a focus on Advent—the four weeks when we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ—is what I was always missing in the holiday. Rather than one big “let’s get ready for Jesus’s birthday party,” Advent has become for me a holy period of centering myself and honoring the stillness, magic and beauty of our all-powerful triune God. It’s preparing not only for the coming of Christ as an infant, when he was born in a manger, the Word become flesh, but also preparing for the second coming of Christ, a promise my soul awaits.
This year, I find myself craving quiet more than anything—the solitude of the morning, the sunlight streaming through the trees, that peace and wisdom and love that comes from true, all-consuming rest in authentic relationship with my Lord. That soul-hunger is shaping what I hope to do this year with Advent: spend these next few weeks trying my best to push aside all the noise to focus only on my connection with God.
While as the mom and stepmom of four young kids I fully intend to buy presents and hang stockings and put up a Christmas tree, I also intend to devote my day to drawing deeper in my Lord. While I plan to prepare my house for Santa and the reindeer, I also plan to prepare my heart to listen to the whispers of God, even when the bustle of the season tries to drown Him out.
And I plan to hang a wreath upon my door—not so much for the decoration but for the meaning behind the decoration. I always thought Christmas wreaths were just pretty (not to mention lovely-smelling) throwbacks meant to remind us of days of old, but this year, my heart is caught up in the visual they represent. Formed in the shape of a circle, Christmas wreaths are meant to symbolize the eternity of God, a ring of life that has no beginning and no end.
It’s a holy circle—a promise, a hope and a power all caught up in one.
I know as Christmas morning approaches my time will feel compressed, and I’ll likely find myself frustrated with holiday shopping and other unessential chores of the season.
But I pray that each day, as I look upon that wreath, I’ll circle back to the Divine Circle that is God and eternity, and prepare my heart and my life for full connection with Him.
By Jessica Brodie