Today’s readings start with the images we expect of Christmas cheer: tables overflowing with “juicy rich food” and “pure choice wines.” The table is spread, the cups overflow – let the party begin! Indeed, they suggest some of the worst stereotypes of the holidays – eating to excess, drinking too much – the things we regret come January.
So what is different about the table of the Lord? How is this not just another holiday party?
It’s certainly about food – lots of food-- but it’s not just about the eating. It’s about an invitation and a willingness to sit at the table, to go up to the mountaintop, to lie down in green pastures and to rest by quiet waters.
So what’s so hard about this?
Sometimes I want so much that I don’t really know what I want. My dissatisfaction and lack of contentment made it hard to sit and impossible to be satisfied.
Other times, my heart is simply unwilling to be open, and unwilling to be fed. No matter what or how much I eat, my heart remains empty.
In Dickens’ great story A Christmas Carol, he returns over and over again to the image of tables spread for the feast: the Cratchits, the Fezziwigs’ ball, and Scrooge’s nephew’s party. There is joyful excess; there is contentment; there is love. Scrooge resists the excess, stingy in his miserly expectations of the world. But when he finally abandons his suspicions, he is surprised to find that death itself is overturned; Tiny Tim does not die, but lives, as does Scrooge for the first time in many years. And his cup indeed begins to overflow as he shares the wealth he has hoarded so long.
So this Advent, I will seek out a sort of holy excess that begins at the table of the Lord. I will hoard less and share more; want less and appreciate more; eat less and savor more. I shall indeed dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Augustine and Culture Seminar Program
Graduate Liberal Studies
Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus – an arrival or a coming. In the context of the season, Advent means that the Lord is coming. Read more of the Advent introduction...
First Week of Advent
Second Week of Advent
Third Week of Advent
Fourth Week of Advent