When I first became an Anglican and learned about the Advent season, I was a little surprised at the kinds of themes it had. Traditionally, Advent was not the giddy season of festive parties and glittering décor that we have come to know.
A more rooted Advent tradition was a preparation for the return of Christ, not merely a preparation for Christmas celebrations. Indeed, there is an element of festive joy, but it is also a sober season, kinda Lent-ish feeling, that begins with sustained attention to our deepest longings, and the assumption which those longings might indicate. It was a time of penitent reflection about the many inordinate attachments and affections we have given ourselves to. As well, it is a time to reflect on the upside-down nature of this astonishing Reign of God that is breaking in on our desperate history.
Upon reflection, we just may come to realize that Advent is, in fact, a robust and demanding season! We are invited and encouraged to attend deeply to the pulse of this season, to enter into it quietly, penitently, patiently and expectantly, allowing it to penetrate the depths of our souls.
Like foolish folk of old I would not be,
Who had no room that night for Him and thee.
See, Mother Mary, here within my heart
I've made a little shrine for Him apart;
Swept it of sin, and cleansed it with all care;
Warmed it with love and scented it with prayer.
So, Mother, when the Christmas anthems start,
Please let me hold your baby--in my heart.