Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Real Meaning of Christmas

I love the Advent season.  But it has completely passed me by this year.

Rather, I have allowed it to pass me by.

Advent is meant to be a time of anticipation and preparation.  Admittedly, I have been anticipating and preparing for the wrong things.  I have been anticipating the break from school, holiday gatherings with friends and family, and going home.  I have been preparing by decorating a Christmas tree, baking cookies, and buying presents.

I have been doing all of the things that Christmas should not be about.

In my Bible study this morning, we pulled out a devotional book entitled Simply Wait:  Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent.  Since today was the fourth Sunday in Advent, we focused on that chapter - the chapter about obedience.

I have not been very obedient as of late.

Our wonderful leader Dr. Gene Armstrong quoted a song by asking us, "Where is the line for Jesus?"  He commented that everywhere you look, there are lines for Santa and check-out lines for buying presents, but you are hard-pressed to find any evidence that Jesus has anything to do with this holiday.

It's sad, but he's right.

I'm so grateful that today's church service re-focused me.  As we lit the fourth candle on the Advent wreath, I was reminded of the previous three candles - of hope, preparation, and joy - and was given my focus for the week - the candle of love.

Today was also our church's Chrismas pagaent.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the children speak about and sing about the birth of our Savior.

I've got seven days until the Christ candle is lit, and I fully intend to make the most of those seven days - having hope, preparing, sharing joy, and loving.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin's name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

-Luke 1:26–38

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