This Christmas season I've been contemplating the gift of Advent. The gift of waiting. We wait for the coming of Christ, with a breathless anticipation that precedes His coming. We find expectant hope and joy in our hearts, and in the faces of our children. We experience peace and love so extravagant they defy description. We are offered grace, freely given, so that we may have life, and life to the full.
I've been contemplating what it means to truly experience Advent. Not the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but the moments of quiet reflection interspersed with raucous laughter and excited squeals from two four year old's who can hardly contain themselves as the countdown to Christmas continues.
"Advent is a four-Sunday wait for the coming of Jesus. It's two-fold: we're mirroring the ancient wait for the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem but we're also waiting with all of creation for the second coming of Jesus, the arrival that will wipe every tear from every eye and heal every brokenness and redeem all things."*
This waiting is truly an incredible gift. It causes something to stir in us, something that perhaps can be forgotten or pushed aside in the busyness of every day life. Advent requires us to pause and reflect on the true gift of life we have been given.
I contemplate the coming of Christ and give thanks every time I light the candle on our window sill, breathlessly pouring prayer into and over the light. This small thanksgiving offering - lighting a candle - becomes a symbol of the very image of Jesus, the Light of the World. The gift recipient and the gift giver become one in Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
the new creation has come:
The old is gone, the new is here!
2Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
I contemplate the coming of Christ as the tree is decorated. It's such a joyous occasion, one can't help but smile through the untangling of lights, and the careful application of ornaments. There is tangible anticipation in the voice of a small boy repeating, "Pease! Pease! Pease! Christmas Star?" so that no one forgets that he, himself, would like to install that shiny star on the top of the tree, please, please, please. That star, representative of the one that shone bright enough to guide angels and wise men to the manger, is a gift; a holy reminder of God's redemptive gift given to the entire world.
I contemplate the coming of Christ as I hear small girl exclaiming, "I wish Christmas was every day!" There's so much hope in those words, so much excitement, and so much potential for truth. What would life be like, I wonder, if we continued to live as though Christ was coming everyday, even after the tree has been taken down, and the decorations put away? Sometimes we forget, but this is the true gift: the Risen King has come, and he lives in us. He defeated death, so that we may live. As we walk out our lives as Christ followers, disciples, believers, we are drawn ever inward to the mystery and grace that is Christ Jesus.
What a gift that we can come together, and come to Christ in this way.
My prayer is that each of us would take the time to still ourselves in the midst of Advent, and more so, in the midst of busyness, so that we may truly experience what it means to wait on the King.
May you be blessed this Christmas season,
*Sarah Bessey, Field Notes: A Monthly E-Newsletter (see http://us5.campaign-archive2.com/?u=a792d55e162ffe4c6fd3682e5&id=145dc5fc24&e=947516369f)