The last thing I, or anyone else I know, wants to be dreaming of right now is a white Christmas. Or, for that matter, a white Groundhog day, a white Wednesday, or anything at all that rings of sleigh bells or creeps up on us like a rising tide of yule.
We don’t want wassail. We want to go back to work.
But the Annunciation that we celebrate today reminds us that it’s coming…in precisely nine months. (By the way, should we change the Annunciation timetable to 40 weeks prior to Christmas, as told to us by the Ob’s, instead of the traditional nine-month formula?)
Of course, the birth of Jesus isn’t really about wintry cheer and time off with family. We’ve added those parts through the years, and that stuff has its place. It’s about the Incarnation, the presence of God in the here and now. The promise of a miraculous birth wakes us up to our need for that nearness, and tells us to get ready. Like the gestation of a child in the womb, that preparation is going to take some time. If we’re attentive, it will change us along the way.
This is a helpful reminder that each liturgical season, while distinct in its own theological richness, is pregnant with the meaning of all the others. We are in Lent now, but the promise of the incarnation sustains us. In a few weeks we’ll be in the Easter season, but the preparation of Advent will still shape our lives. The robust devotion of Holy Week depends on the day-in & day-out devotion of ordinary time for its meaning to take root in our hearts.
The Church Year is not just a chance to isolate different theological highlights and celebrate them one at a time. It is an a journey that, daily, weaves together expectation, incarnation and resurrection.