On my walk home, I remember that it’s the second week of Advent, and we still haven’t put up our Christmas decorations. I wonder what it would be like to not do it at all.
I have mixed feelings about Advent and Christmas. I enjoy the parties, the lighting of the candles, and the certainty that the One we are waiting for comes. But there is something about this season and its thin veneer of cheer that unsettles me. Part of my Christmas joy is the anticipation of relief when it’s over.
I’m not depressed and nothing bad is happening, unlike one friend who has lost her husband. Mornings and evenings are the worst, she says. Many people I know are not finding this season wonderful. They gasp for breath while waves of pain, loss or rejection wash over them.
I don’t know why I’m uninspired to sing carols or wrap presents. I just am.
I somehow manage to keep up with my Advent readings. In one of them, Isaiah tells me that God “tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.”
In Matthew I read Jesus’ parable about that same shepherd. I imagine him leaving the ninety-nine enthusiasts to seek the curmudgeon who has wandered from the fold.
And where does this Good Shepherd find me? Not on some lofty knoll, where I wish I was but hunkered down in a cleft of rock, waiting for Christmas to be over.
He finds me where I am.
And when he does, he squeezes in, puts his arm around me, and waits there with me.
“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not
leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one who has wandered
off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than
about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” –Matthew 18:12-13
Advent Reflection Questions:
- If the Good Shepherd were looking for you, where would he find you?
- What would you say to him? How does he respond to you?
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Churches in my neighbourhood are actively helping Syrian refugees. Some, like St. Stephen the Martyr, are working with other churches to raise funds and provide support for new refugees. Others are working with existing organizations like More Than A Roof or Journey Home.