I recently read a satirical article about the song, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” – or more specifically, the plotline in The Sound of Music, to which it belongs. In a nutshell, the comedic perspective was that most of the things identified as Maria’s ‘problems’ were not actually problems at all, and that the solution her superiors arrived at was bizarre, at best.
I mention this because I think that having Advent 4 and Christmas Eve on the same day is a situation that may seem to pose a bit of a problem for some of us – not least for clergy! It might seem tempting to rush through our very short observance of Advent 4 to get to the ‘main plot’. But perhaps, like Maria’s whimsical behaviour, our brief Advent 4 situation is less of a problem than we think it is.
With it being so very short, I think it is that much more important to give it the attention it deserves, in mindfulness if not length of time. In fact, its brevity forces us to be that much more present in the moment, for if we are not, it will slip through our fingers and be lost. Like so much of our lives spent rushing through this busy world, we scarcely have time to notice individual moments before they are gone, yet once gone they are gone forever.
This Advent 4 is a perfect opportunity to practice presence. You may wish to spend a few extra moments meditating on a portion of the Scripture readings for the day or make a special devotion to Mary (like the one in the Reflection), or sing a favourite Advent hymn or antiphon. Perhaps we might all add a prayer that God will open our eyes to the moments we usually miss by rushing through. We may well find that the moments which hold life’s greatest treasures are very brief indeed. We may even discover that a short Advent 4 is not actually a problem at all.