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All is not lost. . .

November 27, 2011

Advent candleAdvent is here again – sneaking stealthily behind the praise and prayer of Thanksgiving and retail riot of Black Friday.  Advent – preparing for the coming of the Lord – provides a blessed opportunity for introspection.  Time in the silent dusky darkness of an early December evening with the simple glow of the candle stills the mind and re-inspires a connection to God that fell away following Easter and the lengthening Spring evenings.

Despite the many spiritual benefits of celebrating Advent, the quick “arrival” catches me off guard. I rummage through the storage room in my basement looking for the simple black wrought iron candleholder packed away last January with all the Christmas trimmings.

If I’m fortunate enough to find it quickly – do I have the candles? They have to be new each year, you know. Are they the right color? Three purple, one rose – or is it the other way around? A sense of frustration grows. I might as well forget the whole thing if I can’t start on the first day and do it perfectly right. Tears of frustration stream down my face.

And then I stop. . . with the awesome realization that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. That’s why he sent Jesus. How silly am I to think that God will judge the color of the candles, if I got them out the first night of Advent or the second. It’s the matter of spending the time in reflection and in prayer that God is inviting me. The opportunity to celebrate the many good things should not be overshadowed by the human tendency to “get it perfect.”

It’s a lot like Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Martha is fussing and fretting to the point of being overwhelmed to host a meal for Jesus, while Mary sits at the Lord’s feet and learns. Sure, I suppose Mary could have helped to set the table, but more importantly Martha might have relaxed and allowed herself to be imperfect to invest some precious time with Jesus.

And so – all is not lost this Advent season. All is not lost if the candles are not purple (or royal blue – depending on your faith tradition). All is not lost if the Advent wreath is not “unearthed” from storage. All is not lost if you don’t have the perfect decorations, if you don’t follow the family tradition perfectly. The potential for what is gained – self-forgiveness of imperfection and a closer walk with the Christ is priceless.

Father God – Help me to focus on what is right for the world and how my works reflect you. While I realize the importance of being a “good workman”, I also realize that you do not demand perfection from me, only that I strive to do what is right in your eyes. Forgive me for hiding behind the trappings of perfection as an excuse to not practice my faith as fully as I should. Help me this Advent season to deepen my relationship with you and serve, as you would have me serve in your divine plan. Amen

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