An article from Sarah Reinhard titled “What I learned from Failing at Advent (Again)” struck a chord. Maybe many of us feel like we are failing at Advent, particularly those with perfectionistic tendencies. At the start of Advent, we have the best intentions to prepare spiritually for the coming of Jesus – in addition to completing all the cleaning, decorating, shopping, cooking, writing cards and visiting. It’s getting close, and we notice that we haven’t been able to get to Eucharistic Adoration, we didn’t take the time to pray more often, we did not find a volunteer soup kitchen that met our schedule, we almost forgot to get the gift for the Angel Tree. We didn’t read about the Advent saints. Maybe we contemplated God’s presence a few times while at a stoplight. Did we even light all the candles on the Advent wreath? It may be that our life circumstances leave us with little energy or enthusiasm to prepare very much at all.
“Christmas comes anyway.” Sarah lists this as a lesson learned during our Advent struggle. Think about it: even though we feel unprepared, Christmas comes anyway. The day is going to arrive, ready or not. We get to celebrate Jesus’ birth even if we don’t have the nativity set out. Isn’t this really the point of it all? Jesus came anyway. Isn’t that the good news? God’s mercy is revealed. He knows us. He knew we would not be ready! He sent his Son, anyway. Mercy came into the world on that day, even though humanity was not really prepared. He really loves us. He wanted to enter into our joys and sorrows. He is here in our lack of perfection to encourage us. We keep falling short, but He continues to help. It is so great. God is here and is not going to let us go:
“Joseph… do not be afraid….he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
Advent comes every year to remind us again to prepare better for the coming of Jesus. But even our failures help us to “stay awake” for the awesome mercy of God.