So, have you made your list and checked it twice yet? Started listening to Christmas music or watching those Hallmark Christmas movies? Perhaps you’re dreading the holiday season due to a loss during the past year. Wherever you are on this journey through the holidays, I invite you to join me in preparing for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Advent is a time when we need to stop focusing on ourselves, our to-do lists and what we don’t have and focus on what we have been given through Jesus. Advent — the four Sundays leading up to Christmas — is the season when a lot of Christian churches prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth in the manger, as well as the return of Christ at the second coming.
Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect and who look forward to something greater to come.” During the holiday season, we tend to lose focus on the true meaning of Christmas. We get so bogged down with wish lists, to-do lists and all the festivities that we forget why we are celebrating.
Each of the four Sundays in Advent has a focus: hope, faith, joy and love. The first Sunday represents the hope we have through the coming of Christ and the hope that forgiveness offers us through Jesus. The theme for the second Sunday is love — the unconditional, limitless love God has for the world and the love we should have for one another. The third Sunday is for joy, as in Philippians 4:4-5, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” The fourth Sunday’s focus is peace — Jesus as peace on earth and the peace he offers us that passes all understanding.
As we journey through this holiday season, how can we be active participants in Advent and anticipate the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Instead of stressing about lists and parties, may we seek Jesus in a whole new way this month. Let us pray more, seeking God with all our heart, mind and soul. May we join the angels in singing praises to a newborn savior who rescues us where we are and changes us from the inside out with God’s love.