Good day, Friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!
Well, yesterday marked the first day of Advent. Advent is the season leading up to Christmas and begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. Advent is a time to prepare for and reflect upon the coming of our Saviour. Our North American societies are very good at ‘preparing for’ Christmas Day, in the worldly sense. However, I have come to cherish the season of Advent as an integral part of Christmas.
Let’s top up our mugs and I will share what I have learned…
Blessed Time of Advent
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-41
I love Christmas! I love family being together! I love decorating the house and tree! I love the anticipation of opening gifts! I love the beauty and holiness of the Christmas Eve Candlelight service! As a child, I waited in anticipation for all of these activities, but many times was disappointed when it was over or I didn’t get something I really had my heart set on. As a young wife and mom, I rushed around trying to get everything done: presents purchased and wrapped, cookies made, cards sent, parties attended, etcetera, etcetera… And then it was all over! Not only was I caught up in the rush of things but I was not able to appreciate the calmness and beauty of what was about to happen on that Christmas morning: A little baby – the Holy Son of God – was born strictly to accomplish my salvation; to pay the price my sins deserve, just so that I can be His child and have a home in eternity in His presence. In fact, I began to realize that during the busyness in preparing for Christmas, I was exhausted, my husband and I had more arguments, and life was anything but calm.
After a few years of this, and as I reflected on these past Christmases, I realized I had gotten caught up in the worldly chaos of Christmas, even though Jesus’ birth and celebrating His birthday had always been proclaimed in our home. This Christmas chaos reminded me of the time when Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s home and Martha was so busy rushing around the house getting things prepared that she inadvertently denied herself the one-on-one time with her Saviour that was awaiting her in her own home. I could so relate to Martha!
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way! The days in Advent, those first few weeks leading up to Christmas, can be a time of one-on-one conversation with our Saviour, a time to reflect on what His birth truly means to each of us, and a time to think on our own lives- our unworthiness of His grace, mercy and sacrifice and yet the abundant blessings he bestows in our lives. Oh what love he has lavished on us through this humble little baby.
So now for me, my mind set is no longer just on Christmas day and all the things I love about it. But I have come to put the emphasis of the season on the Advent of Christmas. It’s like the saying, “Take time to appreciate and enjoy the journey, not just the destination”. For me, there is special meaning in the activities of these days of advent; in the tasks I do, in the people we see through the gatherings we attend, in the gifts I buy or make for others, but most importantly in the worship, daily devotions and weekly lighting of the advent wreath with any family or friends that are present. With that being said, at times I can still find myself getting a bit edgy with Christmas tasks to be done, but it has become part of my advent journey to leave it at the cross; to start each day in repentance and thanksgiving of Christ’s coming for me.
So this Christmas season, may I encourage you to escape the worldly Christmas chaos, and walk with Christ during the time of Advent, through dedicated Advent devotions and/or midweek Advent services, and take time to enjoy your journey to the manger each day, and may it give you a fresh and thankful heart in all you do as you prepare for the coming of your Saviour!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, your birth is such a wonderful celebration! The reality that you came to earth as a little baby just so that you could ultimately pay the terrible penalty that my sins deserve just because I am loved so dearly by my Heavenly Father is incomprehensible. Thank-you! Help me this coming Christmas to focus on You in prayer and praise throughout the Advent season, and that all I do in preparation for Christmas is presented as a thank offering and done to Your glory! All this I pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN!
Reflect: How do you feel about Christmas and its preparations? List emotions that are common for you and your family as you prepare for Christmas. Are there any you would like to eliminate? Do you try to do everything and feel overwhelmed? Reflect upon and pray for ways to make changes, if there is anything you do that really is not necessary, or a more efficient way of doing it. As you approach Christmas this year, consider the weeks of Advent to be part of your Christmas celebrations and all that you do to prepare for the big day as part of your thank offering and praise to God. How does this way of thinking change your attitude towards the Christmas preparations?