Hold Your Breath

I’m going through a phase in which I am having trouble remembering why we do this Christmas thing every year. Now some may immediately say that the answer to that should be easy, especially for a former church youth group junkie who should know better.

The problem here is mostly within me. Thus far, I’ve spent very little time during Advent moving toward Jesus, anticipating him, and worshipping him. I posted about a few great Advent resources, hoping that I might be inspired to pick up and read, but so far all of my attention has been on the externals of Christmas: the trees, the lights, the cold weather, the food, the colors, the get-togethers, and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.  

None of these things are bad but they’re all I’ve got right now. So I’ve been left high and dry. 

The word Advent, from the Latin word adventus, means “coming.”  It’s a time of prayer and anticipation, each week closer to the outburst of joy that was Jesus’ birth. I want to know the pause of waiting that every follower of God must experience, as we watch for God to do more than we could imagine when we need it the most. I want a wide-eyed soul that asks, “Could it be true?” with hopeful expectancy.

Frederick Buechner describes Advent as a season of the world “holding its breath”:

The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.
But if you concentrate just for an instant, Far off in the deeps of you somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.*

I haven’t missed Advent completely, so tonight  I’ll start with the Bible.  I’ll hold my breath there in John’s story-gospel, with the rest of the world awaiting a Savior who has entered our story.

*from Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary, by Frederick Buechner.

2 thoughts on “Hold Your Breath

  1. we’re doing an advent, for the very first time as a family, this year. we’re spending a few minutes each evening, before the kids go to bed, re-focusing our attention on the real reason for all this.

    ugh. have i whittled it all down to a “reason” now? since when did the Word become a reason? but that’s where we’re at and advent is helping to re-tune our attention, our anticipation and our expectation towards Him.

    [and if you’re enjoying john’s story-gospel, then you’re going to love your Christ Mass gift!]

    we are — pausing to hold our breath along with you…

  2. Glad to hear that you are doing this and finding it helpful to get closer to center.

    I also really like what you have pointed out about the Word being “whittled down to a reason.” I don’t quite know how to get all of that unpacked right now, but perhaps the thing that gets me is this: the “reason” language demotes the Word to just one of the many reasons we have. It becomes one thing of many, instead of THE thing that is the very anchor for our existence.

    Good insight.

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