I had been thinking about my own story before the beginning of this Advent. I’m less enthusiastic about this season than I have been in the past. In the past I’ve stopped myself at least a week or two before Advent begins to consider something to do for it, like writing daily haikus or committing to a prayer practice for the four weeks. Yet the past half a semester at work has been full of moments where I’ve decided to work instead of reflect. Moreover, I’ve decided to watch Netflix, scroll social media, play Playstation, or listened to the news instead of reflecting. It’s surprising how fast the season arrived, and I don’t feel prepared for it.
Yet, in some ways, being distracted by life is exactly where Advent is supposed to begin. Each Sunday we find different characters in the Gospel story at different points in their lives. Mary opens her heart and mind to God completely as a visit from an angel dictates the course of her life. Joseph, at first, seeks to divorce Mary quietly because of her pregnancy outside of marriage, but then commits to God’s will. Elizabeth, pregnant in her old age, meets her relative Mary, joyful about the miracle that God has wrought for her and her husband. Three Wise Men look up to the sky and see an astronomical sign that compels them to follow it through the desert.
Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and the Three Wise Men weren’t planning for God to interrupt their lives as much as God did. Mary and Joseph were probably just hoping to start their lives together in Nazareth. Elizabeth and her husband were likely content with the lives that they had led without a child for years. The Three Wise Men were probably worrying about the lands that they were traveling from and all the issues that were present there. God did not wait until they were ready. God emerged from within their busy lives to draw them back towards love and humility in the face of life’s everyday challenges.
Advent is the time for preparation and waiting. It’s a time where God hopes to emerge in our lives, especially in those times when we are distracted. These stories are an invitation to consider the mystery of God’s love and its incarnation within the ordinary lives that we lead. The response to this invitation does not need to be perfect or exact. However, the challenge is to open our hearts and minds towards this invitation, so that God’s love might be born within our hearts.