There were many tough things as a kid that you would have to do like cleaning your room, finishing your plate with that one particular vegetable that your mom and dad would make you eat, going to school just to come home to do homework and the list goes on. Still there was one thing I think was the toughest and that was trying to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. In my family, we had to wait until Christmas morning to open our gifts and man, what a wait it was. In the excitement, the anticipation caused my eyelids not to function (close). I remember countless Christmas Eve hours staring at the ceiling hoping for one of two things, sleep to come or Christmas morning!
Here in a few weeks another Christmas will be upon us and I ask the question: what you anticipating for Christmas this year? Could it be receiving that one thing you desired under the tree? Could it be the smile on the face of a loved one as they open that gift you spent forever (and maybe a fortune) to get? Maybe it’s hosting that perfect party that everyone raves about throughout the next year. Still, it might be the opportunity just to see loved ones you haven’t seen in a very long time. These can be exciting things and happy moments, yet as Christmas comes and goes, these moments fade and the things we thought would bring joy leave us with momentary happiness. There is, however, a way we can come away with true joy this Christmas that can last long after the gifts are gone, parties are over and our distant loved ones leave to homes far away and that is through a word called Advent.
Advent is a season of time leading up to Christmas where a Christian can focus in on the real reason, we should celebrate Christmas, Jesus. Advent focuses firstly on Jesus’ coming here, God coming in flesh. Matthew 1:23 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us)” (NIV). It is a time to reflect and celebrate the fact that Jesus came to dwell with us, die for us and now dwells within our hearts.
The second part of Advent is to remember that Jesus will return again. Just as God promised the Messiah (Jesus) would come and He did; Jesus promised He will return again. Revelation22:20 “20 He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’” Advent is a time to reflect and celebrate this fact as well; Jesus is coming again.
Right about now you’re thinking isn’t there some wreath and candle thing you need to set up. Well, yes one can use a wreath with four outer candles and an inner one lit, but the candles aren’t necessary. It’s what they symbolize that can help us celebrate Christmas this year. Each candle lit once a week in a sequence symbolizes ways that we can reflect and celebrate Jesus’ coming and His return. The candles represent hope, joy, peace and love. Each of these is something Jesus gave to us as He came to this earth fully man and fully divine.
Jesus gave us hope that we could find freedom from sin. The joy that comes as Christ comes into our lives. The peace Jesus mediated between us and God. Finally, the love Jesus showed by coming to Earth and dying on the cross for us. As we approach Christmas, we can spend time not only on the hope, joy, peace and love from Jesus’ coming, but the hope of Jesus’ return when we will have the fullness of His joy, peace and love.
So, this Christmas once again I ask, what are you anticipating for Christmas this year? Are you willing to take the time to slow down from the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday to reflect and celebrate on the real meaning of the season? To seek and find the hope, joy, peace and love only Jesus can bring in your life. I believe if you do, this might truly be an unforgettable Christmas.