Saturday, November 30, 2019

Advent Anxiety

I can’t believe that it is already Advent. Often we have a Sunday between Thanksgiving and Advent to catch our breath. Not this year. We are still eating turkey leftovers from the refrigerator and talking about baby Jesus in church.

On top of that, as I mentioned in a previous blog, I am dealing with anxiety. I won’t bore you with the details of my mental health, except to say it does not make for a relaxing holiday season. It does not help that the heating system in our home chose this time to go on the blink again. I may need a new boiler. One more thing to overthink.

Writing this blog helps, and that is why I am doing it, regardless of whether anyone reads it. Reading the Bible helps too. When I read the Advent narratives in the Scriptures I find that there was a lot of anxiety going around in the time leading up to the first Christmas. First we have the story of the birth of John the Baptist. That is a tale of an unexpected geriatric pregnancy for senior citizens Elizabeth and Zachariah.

The announcement of his wife’s pregnancy was so shocking to Zechariah that he could not speak for nine months! I sympathize. If my wife announced she was having another child, I would be speechless too. Besides the fact that it would be a bona fide miracle, I can’t imagine being a parent of a small child at this stage of my life! Occasional childcare for our grandchildren is more than enough for me right now.

Then there is the drama surrounding the pregnancy of Mary. Can you image the feelings Mary felt while trying to explain the impossible story of a miraculous virginal conception to her parents and to her fiancĂ© Joseph? Who in their right mind would believe such a story if offered today? Sounds like “fake news” or something out of supermarket tabloids.

Joseph sure didn’t believe Mary’s tale at first. He was planning to break off the engagement to the woman he loved, until he had the virgin birth divinely confirmed to him in a dream. Even then I imagine he had some doubts. After all, it was only a dream. Was it really God speaking to him in that dream or just his unconscious?

Then there was the anxiety surrounding the trip to Bethlehem and giving birth in a stable. Labor and delivery is stressful enough in our modern age of automobiles, ambulances and hospitals. Can you imagine what the infant mortality rate – and childbirth mortality rate for the mother – were at that time under good conditions?

So it seems that there was lots of anxiety floating around during the original Advent season. You can feel it exuding from the text of the Bible stories. For that reason these stories are able to speak to the normal stress of holiday preparations that we feel during these next weeks.

Advent is not all about Joy to the World, Silent Night, and “all is calm, all is bright.” It seems that anxiety is also a part of the Advent season. That means I fit right in! It seems that I am in the holiday spirit after all! Who knew? Now I just have to come up with a creative idea of what to get my wife for Christmas. No pressure there. Any suggestions?


Deb Hoffman said...

As always, enjoyed reading your much truth and wisdom with a bit of lightheartedness all wrapped up in an Advent package! :-)

Unknown said...

With so many people feeling loss or stress from holiday expectations, anxiety is not surprising, especially for someone used to having to shoulder the burdens of others. I always look forward to breathing that sigh of relief when all is done and suddrnly the world seems calm and bright.
For your wife, I suggest a get-away mini-vacation or night out, where you can do just that, together!
Thank you as always for your blog. Merry Christmas!