By Chaplain (Maj.) Clark Sneed
Special to GUIDON
When I was growing up, my family did not pay much attention to Advent.
It simply was not one of our traditions. We skipped straight to Christmas. The problem with ignoring Advent is that you trade the Christmas season for a single day.
Dec. 26th becomes a day of buyer’s remorse and national mourning.
But when you celebrate Christmas from the beginning of Advent all the way through Epiphany Sunday, you experience the fullness of a season rich with the promises of God. The extra time readies your heart to witness what God has done, and what he will do.
Advent teaches us to look forward toward the birth of our savior. It trains us to listen for the mounting crescendo of his arrival.
Our Advent text this week comes from Matthew 24:43, “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.”
I admit that hardly sounds like Christmas — but notice the theme of readiness. Jesus says we are to keep watch. Stay spiritually alert, like a homeowner of your soul.
Just as everyone was caught off guard by the birth of Christ, so will everyone be surprised when he comes back.
Since we don’t know when he will return, it is important to stay ready.
Spiritual readiness builds and strengthens resilience.
It helps us bounce back from the inevitable trials of life by helping us see the bigger picture.
God is bigger than any problem we could face. He is not caught off guard.
There is nothing that you can do that will take you beyond his reach, and you are powerless to make him love you less.
Reflect on that in your quiet moments, and especially as you gather with loved ones over the coming holidays.
If, like me, Advent has not been one of your traditions, I suggest you give it a try. Trade the day for an entire season.
Not a season of sales, debt and stress, but of looking forward to what God has done, and what he will do.
You are dearly loved, and that deserves a season of joyful reflection.
(Editor’s note: Sneed is the U.S. Army Engineer School regimental chaplain.)