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The waiting has begun. Today is the first (Sun)day of Advent and there is no doubt that we are in a new season, even as the calendar says we have yet to arrive at the first day of winter, still three weeks away. Christian tradition interestingly calls this day a new beginning even though it is the beginning only of preparation for the major feast of Christmas. The feeling this morning here in New York State is one of expectation – but not so happy. We’re expecting a strong storm, a significant dump of snow. It’s been happening all over the country, coming east and promising all kinds of havoc in travel and cancellations of all kinds of events.

People everywhere will be marking important feasts toward the end of December – some central to their religious practice and some cultural events. Whether Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, the Chinese New Year or the Winter Solstice, it’s a time for consideration of what we are about as we move into a new season of life. As I sit here this morning my brain and my body are alert for the first sign of snow and/or ice tapping on my window. It’s like a time of pregnancy when everything strains toward a new life and all that such an event will mean to change things. Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like…what it is actually for those of us who now begin the intense season of Advent – this “New Year’s Day” in the Christian Church.

How will this season of Advent – a brief 24 days this year – ready us for a deeper understanding of what the birth of Jesus into the world can mean? When all the festivities of the Christmas season are over, will we be different? Kinder, perhaps? More tolerant and even loving? Where will the emphasis of our “new beginning,” the recognition of our “New Year’s resolutions” be written in our hearts? Today is the day to begin this searching, the reflective moment for stopping to look deeply for possibilities. The snow will blanket us in silence and slow our active lives.

May you know the gifts of Advent that find their fulfillment at Christmas and beyond.