[We're all aware of the 'hustle and bustle' of the holiday season. A period when it's easy to let stress enter and spoil what should be a time of great joy. If you know of anyone afflicted by 'holiday madness', please pass this post on to them.]
The season of Advent brings attention to the issue of 'time': beginning and end. The early weeks pay tribute to the Eternal Son of God, as Triumphant King: He who will bring about the end of time. The latter weeks herald the Babe of Bethlehem, our infant Creator: the One who set time in motion and entered into its realm. Advent moves gracefully in a gradual transition between these two separate encounters with the Person of Jesus.
As in all things created by God, time is good. The cycles of the days and the seasons each contain their own beauty, enfolded in the loving presence of the Creator. The season of Advent is a dedicated period in which time is given by God, with the express request that we give time back to Him.
Now all time is somehow dedicated to 'knowing, loving and serving the Lord', yet Christmas is a holy season with special demands and special rewards. God in his providence always provides amply to accomplish his will. So why then are Christians overwhelmed, flustered and distressed in the holy season of 'peace and joy'? The answer is simple: we don't give back time in the manner in which it was intended.
Is it any surprise that a 'thief' prowls about to steal and poison our time? Or plant in our brains ill conceived plans? We overextend our limits, bringing fatigue and frustration; we have arguments and bicker about shopping for gifts; we endure stress and anxiety, over not living up to others expectations. In so many ways, our time is squandered and tarnished as we drop our eyes from the manger scene which lies just ahead.
When we are unmindful of God we perceive time as a limitation. Time not only slips away, but often recoils on its victim in the form of regret. Contrast this with our 'mystic' periods when we are united with the Lord. Time is no longer of any concern: we use it in a way which honors God, and even now enjoy a taste of the eternal.
What we do with the following few weeks is our choice. God, who has sent His Son into 'time', has done his part. The Babe of Bethlehem gazes upon us as if to say, 'Give some of your time to Me; spend the rest with others, through Me'.