It’s December! Can you believe 2017 is almost in the books?! That’s one of the most fascinating things about time. Even though just about all of us have a daily routine, consistently maintain a calendar, make appointments, and know what season it is, TIME is still constantly taking us by surprise.
We experience the ambush of time stealthily passing whenever we see a child
for the first time after a few years only to realize that they are not a child anymore but an adolescent or even an adult! We still have them in our minds as that child we once knew the last time we saw them. But now they have transformed seemingly overnight. I am keenly aware of the surprising effects of time when I look in the mirror closely. TIME is so interesting in these regards. It is the one thing that is always present and yet always passing at the same time. It is simultaneously both current and transient.
This time of year is special for many reasons. I am particularly fond of it because of all the preparation and expectancy. It begins just before Halloween and extends through the New Year. Whether it’s retail stores, churches, or individual households, EVERYONE seems to want to decorate and prepare for what has been labeled the “most wonderful time” of the year.
Although this can be bothersome and somewhat irritating to some people, it does not bother me in the least. From the majestic lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the White House lawn to the somewhat redundant, homely, and poorly lighted angel, star, snowflake, or reindeer decorations that small, rural, towns put up on their power poles – all are a welcome sight in my eyes. That’s because they are all done in preparation for a very important event. I like them because they are a clear signal to everyone that there’s something about to happen! Something worth celebrating. Something BIG!
And what is this “something” that’s about to happen? I think it can all be summed up in one word: ADVENT. Simply put, Advent is the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. When it comes to the Advent of Christmas, it pertains to all three! We spend our time looking at lights that are placed on evergreen trees during the cold, dark evenings of Advent and look forward to Christmas day when we can offer gifts to show our appreciation and love for family and friends. We sing carols, give to our preferred charity, and go to parties with colleagues in celebration and homage to the spirit of the season that is Christmas. We light candles, tell stories, and pray for peace.
My mom and dad used to always impart to us the importance of our name. They would admonish us to protect our name and not let it become tarnished because, “You only have the one name that you’ve been given and there’s a lot in a name.” It was true when they were speaking of an individual or a product. At its core, Christmas is about giving and receiving. It is surrounded by proclamations of joy, light, faith, and hope. These virtues have always been at the heart of the season because they have always been at the heart of Christmas. It's all in the name!
That brings us back full circle to another mesmerizing thing about time. Even though time is always passing and yet always present at the same time, there is another aspect of time that is always pending. What does the FUTURE hold? The Advent of Christmas seems to almost force us to think about time in all three dimensions – past, present, and future. Christmas prompts us to always find cause to give and paves the way for us to receive the greatest of gifts. It also calls one and all to experience those things that are TIMELESS - realities such as life, joy, light, and hope that only a name like Christmas could even suggest much less make possible.
Christmas. Yes, there’s a LOT in a Name.