Monday, December 18, 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have Begun Our Initial Descent...
They're the words we can't wait to hear. When the captain comes over the loudspeaker and announces that that the flight attendants are coming to collect the garbage, and we should put our seats all the way up, lift the seat trays in the locked position, and buckle ourselves in. We're about to arrive at our destination.
Each year, on December 17th, our celebration of the Advent season takes a turn towards our final destination of Christmas. In this "Pre-Octave" (8 day) countdown, our focus shifts from the "joyful hope for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ" a SECOND time, to remembering the last time He came to earth. This year it fell on a Sunday, and not just any Sunday: the third Sunday of Advent. The rose vestments made for a very visual transition into these late days of Advent that most people do not notice.
Picking up on the "collecting the garbage" theme, Sunday night I was asked to preach at a friend's Advent Penance Service at his parish. Like most places, he holds these things for both Advent and Lent, and it's always a good time to get together with a bunch of Priests both before and after the service. Don't think it's ONLY a good time: this is a parish that comes out in force to take out their spiritual trash in Confession (enough of a crowd that it took 15 priests over an hour to hear everyones' confessions).
So as the deadline of December 24th approaches, and maybe we've let the shopping and social "holiday season" get the best of us, now is the time to sit up straight, put the cookies aside (just for a moment), and prepare ourselves to honor the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ.