Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
This final week of Advent, as I scramble to complete my baking, shopping and decorating in anticipation of the holiday, it sometimes feels like I’m careening towards Christmas on a roller coaster, fueled by a mix of joy, stress, excitement and fatigue.
In many ways, this feeling is apt; awaiting the birth of a child can be a roller coaster of activity and emotion: One day eager, another anxious. One week tired, another energetic. Carefully, delightfully preparing a space, working to make all the details fit together just right. Worrying whether there is enough room, enough time, enough of whatever that baby will need to thrive. How fast is the heartbeat? Can you feel that kicking? Did I eat something I shouldn’t have? What about this as a possible name?
The roller coaster may be steeper if, like the barren parents in today’s readings who had given up hope of having a child, an angel informs you out of the blue that this is about to change. Or if, as in another familiar reading, an angel surprises you with the news that you are going to become a parent well before you contemplated that possibility. In either case, a lurch in the stomach would not be unexpected (even absent the fact that your messenger was an angel! My head is spinning! I need to lie down!).
During the weeks before Christmas, I have to check myself from time to time, forcing some moments of peace and quiet into my packed schedule to focus on the reason for the season, as Elizabeth did with her five months of seclusion while awaiting the birth of John the Baptist: preparing heart and mind as well as home.
Ready or not, Christmas is coming. That baby will be here before we know it. With the right preparation, when the day arrives we will not be stressed or anxious but awash in God’s goodness, overcome with love, wholeheartedly accepting this miraculous gift as the blessing it is.
Sara Gross Methner, General Counsel