Children (well, and adults too if truth be told) all over the world will begin the treasured tradition of opening advent calendars, one for each day, until Christmas arrives. Chocolates or toys or other treasures lurk behind the windows and it takes a certain amount of discipline to limit oneself to just the one window designated for today. Here in Sweden many people burn an advent candle, a little piece of it each day watching the days melt away as Christmas draws near.
I have on occasion been known to forget about the candle burning on the kitchen table and sadly see that more of December had been gobbled up in one day than was intended!
I love the tradition and enjoy marking time in this manner. (See my previous blog post on marking time here.) I even had my act together and bought my calendar candle last week. Alas, I cannot find it now that it is December 1 so will scramble around later today and purchase another one! But I digress.
What I love about the tradition of the Advent calendar is that it's all about the day at hand. The days that have past are gone and the windows are open and the treats are finished. The days in the future await us and we hold onto the eager expectation that comes with knowing that as long as there are unopened windows, we have something to look forward to! But the best part about the tradition is that you get something just for today. You have at least one wonderful moment to look forward every day that you wake up. At least one surprise awaits you as you peel back the door of the calendar or enjoy watching the candle wax melt down to the next day. I like the Advent calendar because it keeps us focused on the day at hand and if done properly, does not allow us to get ahead of ourselves.
So many scriptures come to mind...Give us today our daily bread...God promises enough for today even though we feel better with the warehouse full. Don't worry about tomorrow, tomorrow had enough concerns of its own. Trusting God today certainly does not solve every worry about tomorrow but most of can get through one day. Perhaps the week or the month or the year feels insurmountable but maybe today is doable, even if you have to stay in bed to get through it! The Advent Calendar reminds us that lurking behind each day is the presence of God whose promise to us includes providing enough sustenance for today. So I urge you to delight in the moment that you are in and don't get ahead of yourself. What fun would it be to rip open every window or burn down the whole candle today? There is no point in that. But opening a new window on every new day that comes our way can help us to leave the past behind, anticipate the future without troubling over it too much and savor the quiet joy of a new day dawning. Or if joy isn't part of your Advent journey then the calendar can help you cope one day at a time.