Advent can be a time of immense stress for many people. The season brings the need for decorations, wrapping paper, Amazon shopping, Christmas cards, and meal planning. It is easy to get short tempered with family and impatient with strangers. Advent provides us the opportunity to focus and appreciate the coming of the Messiah.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30)
We know the Christmas story of the coming of Jesus, but we miss the truth that He has come to dwell within us. He comes through each Eucharist to make his home within us and in those we meet. His desire is to make our holiday season less stressful, and more Christ focused. If we focus on the Lord, then peace follows because He is the Prince of Peace. If we focus on Jesus, joy follows because He is the source of joy in the world.
The Messiah walks among us, comes to us, and is ever-present within us. He is the overlooked visitor during the holiday pandemonium in our home. We can focus more on Christ this season by looking for Him in others. I do not like driving in traffic and I find myself impatient with other drivers. Road rage is something that frequently happens in my vehicle, but I then have to remind myself that the other driver is just as loved by the Lord. The Messiah is among us in the lives of our family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. (Even the driver on the road going 5 mph in a 45 mph zone.)
“For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)
When we find ourselves annoyed at the long lines, impatient with our children, or stressed at all the holiday activities we feel we must attend, we need to stop for just a minute and remind ourselves the Messiah is present in us and in those around us. If we act like we are speaking to the Messiah then we will be more kind, compassionate, and loving. Our level of peace during this Advent and Christmas season correlates with the energy and effort we put into seeing the King of Kings among those we encounter daily.