Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent and Christmas PART 2

When I first started thinking about writing on Advent it was my intention to share about the history of Advent and Christmas. I have always been a person who likes to understand why I do something, where did a tradition start and why should it play a role in my walk with Christ. I had lots of posts I wanted to write, sharing tidbits of information and help encourage others to start the tradition of Advent in their own homes. However, life has a way of changing plans. My children have been consuming all of my time, allowing little else in my day. My morning starts early and often doesn't end until about 9 at night with the kids and at all times one of the kids is requiring attention or interaction. This is the job of a parent. We don't get vacation, we often don't even get a bit of time to ourselves. This will, of course, change as the kids get older and don't rely on you completely, but for now they are all consuming.

Because my children have been what life is about as of late, it's meant that finding time and energy to blog has been nearly impossible, but when I step back and think about it, I realize that's okay. My job right now isn't a blogger, by job is to be a mom to my children and more than that it's to make sure I'm raising them to know who our Lord God is, who our Heavenly Creator is and how to begin a personal relationship with Him. So, what does that have to do with Advent and Christmas? Nothing, a lot, it just depends on how you look at it.

On my first Advent and Christmas post I wrote about what is not important during this holiday season. Shopping for the perfect gift, Santa Clause, etc., but as I thought about it I wanted to add to that list. What is also not important is the Advent calendar, the Advent wreath, the Christmas tree, all of the things we find necessary to purchase in order to make our holiday more meaningful and special. Don't misread me here. I have an advent wreath, which we light each night, we have a lovely Advent "calendar" to look at and read. However you don't need these things, they don't make you a stronger or better Christian because you light a certain candle on the Advent wreath or because you've read your quota of scripture during the Advent season.

Our human nature is to live and to judge by the works we do. We become consumed with the idea if we just do this or this then we'll be a "better" Christian or perhaps a "better" person. If we "appear" to be a loving Christian family or a loving person, if we go to church, walk through the steps, then all will be right between us and the Lord. This simply isn't so, I know it and you know it too. Perhaps you try to deny it, but deep down in your heart you know that works are not the way to the Lord, they are not how we end up in Eternity with our Savior. So the same goes for Advent and to Christmas. Advent should not be a time where we sit down with our check list; lit Advent wreath - check, said a prayer - check, read in the Bible - check, opened a door on our Advent calendar - check. Perhaps some days are like that, that's how life goes, and that's okay, but over all we should try and strive pass the check lists. Re-evaluate how your celebrate Advent and/or Christmas, is the purpose of why you are doing it, just because it's tradition, is it because you think it's the "right" thing to do, perhaps you don't know why you celebrate either of them.  How about instead, look forward to this time, it's truly is a time of anticipation, we are waiting for the celebration, we are waiting with excitement until Christmas Day comes, the day we rejoice and remember the Lord Jesus was born on this Earth. He came here, to be like one of us, to show us how well He knows us and understands us. He came here to sacrifice Himself, so that we could be forgiven and have a direct relationship with our God, the Father and Creator of all. How cool is that? It's pretty awesome in my mind.

So, if we do not celebrate Advent because we are supposed to, because we need to check it off our "to do" list, then why do it? How about because we can take this time and learn about Jesus, learn about why His birth was so important to believers and non-believers alike. Learn why this is such a special holiday. If you need a place to start an advent calendar or book can be helpful or head straight to your Bible and focus on reading scripture that foretells Jesus' birth. Read about His birth, dig into history and understand the significance of Jesus being born in the most lowly places, a stable with animals or why the wise men came to give Him gifts or why he was born in Bethlehem. If you have young children in your home set some time aside and have them do different craft projects that help illustrate Jesus'  being born to Mary and Joseph in a stable. Have your children start memorizing Bible verses about this special occasion. Each year they can re-memorize the same verses and have new ones added.

What it comes down to is taking more time, time above and beyond perhaps your daily devotions and time in prayer. Instead of thinking of the start of the new year as the time to "start over" think about that time as now. Each day you learn a bit more or re-visit stories you've read over and over again remember this is about Jesus, it's about His birth and ultimately His life.

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