“And mama in her kerchief and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap. When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter…”

A long winter’s nap sounds lovely these days. The days are dark and the nights are long, the wind howls and the rain pours down. To sit by a warm fire or tuck in for a good long nap, lulling to sleep during these cold waning days of the year sounds very enticing.

Sometimes we feel like we’re asleep even as we walk around in the world. I find myself asleep and ushered into complacency by cheery jingles and bright red coffee cups, worn out by the noise of the holidays and lulled toward hibernation by the sheer volume of the “Christmas Season.” It is so easy for me to run headlong into the spirit of the holidays and to totally miss the point.

Advent is for waking up. While the world in darkness dreams during the month of December, it is in these days leading up to Christmas that the church tells a radically different story. We proclaim that the darkness does not have the final word — the light will return and will break out in our lives anew as we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.

So while we might be drawn toward the numbing glow of Christmas lights or distracted by the nostalgic stories of reindeer and elves, the church’s proclamation at this time of year is that this is a season to be ready, to come awake, to anticipate the birth of Christ and the coming of the king. Our Sunday readings are apocalyptic and prophetic — unveiling and pointing to the truth of the Christ-child’s loving reign!

I’m sure you remember the anticipation of Christmas morning from when you were a child. My sister and I used to sneak up the stairs to our living room, hoping to catch a glimpse of presents around the tree and all the possibility that exciting day would hold. We could hardly contain our wakefulness. But over the years, the wakefulness wears off. The burdens of the broken world and the darkness of the season weigh us down. And yet we are inspired not to lose heart as we hear the story of Advent again — the light is coming! Wake up!

In this season of Advent, I hope you hear the call to wakefulness. Wakefulness in your soul, where you are opened up to the work God is already doing in you. This is a season of hope, faith, joy, and love — markers of the good news in our lives and reminders of God’s continual presence with us, calling us to wake from our sleep. Like children anticipating the dawn of Christmas Day, so we also are called to wake up to the coming of the light of Christ, the dawning of Emmanuel.

“The moon the breast of the new fallen snow gave a luster of midday to objects below.” 

“A people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Seth

©2020 St. James Presbyterian Church