Between the lovely lights around town, the excited shoppers, and even the bit of (perhaps less than lovely) snow, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! It’s hard to miss this time of year – everything from the flyers in our mailboxes to the songs over the PA systems is a reminder of the big day that’s coming. And it’s an exciting and busy time of year, as we begin all of our own Christmas preparations.
But the preparations, and Christmas itself can be a little overwhelming. There is just so much to do – baking and wrapping and decorating. Christmas can be a very expensive season, and sometimes the to- do lists and the credit card bills threaten to overwhelm us. It can be hard to get in the Christmas spirit with all of this busyness. For some people, by the time we actually get to Christmas day, we’re exhausted in body, mind and spirit, not ready for a big celebration, but only for a rest. We spent so much time preparing that we lost the ability to celebrate!
There are other ways to think about the time leading up to Christmas. It doesn’t have to be this endless whirlwind of tasks to accomplish. The weeks before Christmas are called Advent in the church, and it’s a time of holy preparation, a time when we take time out to think about God and our lives in new ways. Advent is supposed to be a season not of busyness, but of reflection, where we let the lights and the music lead us into a new spiritual space.
One of the resources that’s really helpful in this different, spiritually intentional preparation for Christmas is a website called Advent Conspiracy (adventconspiracy.org). They have videos and reading material and other resources dedicated to helping people have a different, less busy and more holy Advent.
The four guiding principles of the Advent Conspiracy are 1) Worship Fully, 2) Spend Less, 3) Give More and 4) Love All. It’s a process that’s designed to take us out of the need to be so busy at this time of year. It’s a reminder that both Advent and Christmas itself are about far more than just presents, but rather are about community, about God and Jesus, about being present in our lives.
When we are able to begin to live into the Advent Conspiracy – worshipping more fully, spending less, giving more, and being intentional in our desire to love all the people who we meet or interact with in the world, then we will have a more spiritual Advent. This is a way that we can avoid the extreme busyness that leads only to exhaustion. Rather, we will find ourselves rested and refreshed, and ready for a new kind of Christmas celebration, one not focused on food or toys, but rather on God, and on the needs of our fellow humans around the world.