Advent, the season of anticipation. We prepare and wait for Christmas, the coming of our Lord into humanity. For many of us, it is also to anticipate and prepare for Christmas parties, baking the fruit cake and stocking the wine. Maybe more so this year than any other. With this pandemic, we really want to have a good time, to take a break from the virus. And there ain’t nothing wrong with this, for Christ want to be present in the realities of our life, in our merry making too.

The obvious preparation here is to prepare for the coming of Christ. In our immediate sight, the Christmas tree and the birth of Jesus. But Advent today began with the reading of Isaiah, more related to the Second Coming of Christ, when the reality of this world ends, and we are finally judged. Those who are awake enter heaven. Not quite the Christmas we anticipate but a reminder that our Christmas parties are part of this longer spiritual journey.

Between these two comings, the birth and the second, is what Christmas is truly about. Emmanuel – God coming down into the realities of our life to be with us and to accompany us on this longer spiritual journey. We are called to “stay awake” not to anticipate our death but to embrace this presence that is to give us life to the full.

“So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!” (Today’s Gospel)

I awake everyday before the sun rise. Not to pray or read scripture, just age catching up. Just like the need to breathe, I now need my mobile phone to stay alive. It’s the first thing I reach for. I go into it for my football scores then read a bit of news, no longer sharing concern for the world but rather to see if any would have a direct impact on me. Then I enter Facebook to see what’s happening in the world of my friends. Each day as I wake up, I immediately go into a slumber, drowsy by all the distractions, unable to focus on what is good for my spiritual life.

Advent is this awakening, to be aware that God literally dwells in us, to be conscious and awake to God’s presence in each breathing moment of life. Advent reminds, and prepares us for this. What we need to do is to simply focus on this truth of Christmas. We must tune our minds and take a decision of wanting to experience these God moments, and they will come even in the baking of the fruit cake. We will find him in our satisfaction. And God will also be present in our Christmas parties in the wines we serve as a sharing of love and joy. Keep our focus on the simple because he comes in a manger, in uncomplicated ways.

“And yet, Lord, you are our Father; we the clay, you the potter, we are all the work of your hand.” (First Reading)

Advent is to reclaim this focus, to allow the presence of the Infant King to rule our life. When we are opened each moment to his presence, we put ourselves into the hands of God. Every moment we have the opportunity to encounter Him, each moment when we are focus, we follow his promptings as he leads us through our earthly journey. We are the clay, and you are the potter, and you will eventually shape us into a being that will anticipate with joy your second coming.

Christmas parties will not distract us if we continue to stay awake to this presence. Emmanuel, God is with us and he too will come to our parties.

1st Sunday of Advent