Each year when Christmas rolls around, it’s all too easy to rush into the Christmas season.  Our culture certainly does.  Retail stores are putting out Christmas displays weeks before Thanksgiving, Starbucks is serving up coffee in their “Holiday” cups before Halloween arrives, certain stores stay Christmas all year long, people can’t wait to put up their Christmas trees, and we all know someone who loves to sing Christmas carols year round.

Now, I’m all for getting into the Christmas spirit and embracing the season.  But sometimes we easily miss the point of Christmas by rushing into it too quickly.

Each year we look forward to the gifts (giving as well as receiving), the gatherings, generosity, glad tidings and good cheer.  It is a season that is characterized by anticipation, excitement and the possibility of turning joy filled moments into lasting memories.  But amongst the flurry of expectation and activity it’s easy to over look what Christmas is all about.

Now, for us who call themselves Christ followers, we say that we know the real reason of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our savior Jesus Christ.  But even in our own worship gatherings Christ takes a back seat to sentimentality and warm fuzzies and cute kids singing Away in a Manger (none of which are bad).  However, we have become all too familiar with the Christmas story, and familiarity can lead to unfamiliarity.  The reason we become all too familiar with Christmas and the reason we just give lip service to “Christ being the reason for the season”, is because we rush in to celebrate Christmas and we don’t prepare ourselves for Christmas.

There is a long-standing tradition throughout the history of the church called Advent.  Advent is the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The purpose of Advent isn’t to celebrate Christmas, but to prepare ourselves for Christmas, to prepare ourselves for the breaking in of God into our world. Advent is a season characterized by longing, anticipation, expectation and eagerness.  But not the expectation of getting presents, rather the expectation of redemption.  The longing for a broken world made right.  The anticipation of God making good on his promises.

In order to fully appreciate the joy and celebration of Christmas, we first have to embrace the preparation for Christmas.  Advent creates space for us to prepare ourselves by

slowing down…
examining where we have misplaced our hope in the things of this world…
realizing that our pursuits of accumulation have left us dissatisfied…
getting in touch with a desire to be made right and whole…
embracing a longing for the full redemption that awaits our world.

Only after we have prepared ourselves for Christmas will the celebration of a little baby take on new meaning in a fresh way that will truly make our soul sing, “Joy to the world the Lord is come.”


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4 Responses to “Rushing into Christmas”

  1. Emily

    As a worship/music leader in the church and someone who grew up with in an Advent calendar family and advent celebrating church, I so appreciate pastor’s who understand the importance of advent and teach their congregations about advent – it so impacts when and what Christmas hymns we ‘sing’ and how we prepare ourselves to celebrate – great post Bryan!

    Reply
  2. adamwaid

    Each year, Emily and I talk about how “this year” we are going to slow down – not buy as much – take time to really meditate on the reason we celebrate this season. And each year, it seems like the weeks fly by, and before we know it, we were sucked into the culture’s “reason for the season.”

    So our prayer this year is for God to help us truly prepare our hearts, slow down, and teach our son that though Christmas season is fun, it’s more than Black Friday and twinkling lights and Santa Claus.

    Thanks for sharing Bryan.

    Reply
  3. Melissa

    Well put (as usual) Bryan. I grew up with the most beautiful Advent Wreaths you can imagine (My Mom was Martha Stewart good, before Martha even tied her first floral ribbon bow) – nightly our Catholic family would gather round that wreath while Mom or Dad read a short daily devotional and say a prayer. I can remember staying in the living room for a long time after just watching the lit candles for a while. One of the things I’ve missed most since leaving the Catholic Church years ago, is the lack of Advent practiced/taught in Non-Denominational churches. It’s so refreshing to enter the Christmas Season in a spirit of preparation with you and our entire church family. My poor advent candles, they’re a sorry bunch – but they actually remind me of the humble beginning Jesus made into our world; so I’m keeping them as is! Merry Christmas Bryan, keep up the good blogging!

    Reply

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