A few years ago, a friend was looking for a calendar that began, not with January 1, but with Advent - the official beginning of the church year. I was surprised, as I had never given much thought to Advent before.
Since then, I too have begun to pay attention to "Advent"... the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Unlike popular tradition, which focuses on the number of shopping days until Christmas, Advent reminds me of 'the reason for the season.'
This past year, I have been reading books of sermons by Barbara Brown Taylor. In one, she says that the challenge of Advent is to wait and watch...
"Unlike the culture that surrounds us, the church is in no great hurry to get there [to Christmas]. With the wisdom of centuries, our tradition tells us that the journey itself is what we need as much as finally reaching that shed outside of Bethlehem. It tells us to pause, to take stock, to lie on some hillside a little distance from our destination and watch the stars. It tells us to empty our hearts so that there is room in them for the birth of something new and altogether unforeseen."
So this year, my challenge is to watch and wait... open to discovering "something new" about my Christian faith.