First Sunday of Advent
The approach of the holiday season usually finds me in search of what I like to call the “lost Christmas,” a fantasy combination of childhood memories. Hello, I’m Father Greg Friedman, and this is the “Sunday Soundbite” for the First Sunday of Advent.
A treasured ornament; a worn, shabby Santa figure; an heirloom Nativity scene—all these can evoke powerful recollections of Christmas as a child, when life was less complicated. It’s probably closer to a fantasy than reality, since I can easily “edit out” unpleasant memories.
It’s easy to get caught up in Christmas nostalgia, and forget the central truth of the season: God is breaking into our troubled world. The Scripture readings for this first Sunday in Advent urge us to wake up to what is happening here and now. This is the hour of salvation, St. Paul tells the Romans. He echoes Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel: We must be prepared, focused on making our hearts ready to receive God at every moment of our lives.
Without letting go of fond memories, it’s my hope this year to focus more on the good news which the season celebrates, the birth of hope into our midst. It might make a difference in how I relate to all the frantic preparations for the externals of Christmas; a true change of heart might open me to the peace promised by Isaiah in the first reading. That would make for some new memories of this season, to carry into the future.
I’m Father Greg Friedman with the “Sunday Soundbite” for AmericanCatholic.org.