Thursday of the First Week of Advent
The readings for the day can be found here.
So begins the holiday season. Break out the peppermint hot chocolate, walks in Winter Wonderland, nights snuggled up in front of the fireplace, wool mittens and caps, and of course, gingerbread house building. It is no secret that gingerbread house building is an art form that requires skill, patience, and creativity. After gathering the graham crackers, marshmallows, colorful gumdrops, sprinkles, and icing supplies, construction can commence. The four walls, a roof, decorations, and frosting in the seams comprise a standard gingerbread house. However, many times there comes a point in the building process when the weight of all those M&Ms, licorice bits, and chocolate chips causes the roof to sag, shift, and finally, collapse. The foundation of the house was not sturdy enough to support it. Just as the gingerbread house collapsed, we too can be brought down by the weight of the world without a strong foundation. Both the first reading and the Gospel for today warn against the instability of a foundation set in anything other than God. Matthew speaks of storms that threaten the integrity of a house, “but it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.” God, our faith, and a commitment to both can be our foundation, because as Isaiah says, “the LORD is an eternal Rock.” Building gingerbread houses is a holiday pastime, but it can serve as an example of the effects of faulty foundation. One builds a house from the ground up; everything in a house relies on the strength, stability, and reinforcement of the foundation. Therefore, we must seek God as our foundation. In times of trouble we can rely on and call upon God’s support if we have used Him as the base for all else in our life.
This Advent Season, let us slow down and take the time to build a solid foundation in Christ. As we gather the ingredients to build our own gingerbread houses bring a presence of mind and awareness to the comparative process of building our life. The recipe for a lasting house consists of the following:
God as the foundation- always providing a sound frame
Family, friends, and faith as the walls- supporting and holding us up
Our profession, studies, or purpose as the roof- strengthening the values of the
foundation and helping us reach new heights
Communities, organizations, and groups as the icing- sticking it all together and
allowing us to combine all the different parts of our lives
Then come the decorations, the M&Ms, licorice, gumdrops, and marshmallows- these can add creativity and color to the gingerbread house, but too much and the house cannot sustain it all. The M&Ms- confidence, licorice- wealth, gumdrops- power, and marshmallows- concern about what others think. These are that which we must be careful to handle gently and with discretion in life. In excess, these can threaten to destroy the lives we have built, but totally without and a house seems incomplete.
During Advent let us resist the urge to build up our lives too quickly and heavy with that which will collapse us. A life rooted in the Gospel is one that will sustain us. As we continue on with holiday traditions may we remember the recipe for a sturdy gingerbread house and life grounded in faith.