I can't believe that it is December 2nd !! Today marks my parents 31 wedding anniversary! It also marks the 13 anniversary since Aaron & my first date. (Was that stated in proper English???)
That has nothing to do with what I'm about to write about .....
The last few years, as Christmas approaches, I find myself struggling with the "true meaning of Christmas". You'd think that this would not be a struggle for someone who has followed Christ for 13 years. (Anyone catch that number twice now in this post???) Even more than that, but as someone who grew up in a Christian home celebrating Jesus as the Reason for the Season ever since I can remember. And yet, I do. Maybe the combination of those two things are the problem. Perhaps hearing the Christmas Story (no, not the - "You'll shoot your eye out" Christmas Story, but the REAL Christmas Story) for 30 years over and over and over (should I write over 30 times?) is part of the problem. Perhaps Christmas is one of those things you think you understand and even take advantage of as a "good Christian" .... sort of like grace, forgiveness, God's sovereignty. (You know, the little things.) What really is the big deal about Christmas? Virgin Birth by a common servant, God coming to earth in the form of a baby? As I write those 2 miracles, I think to myself AGAIN that they should mean more to me than they do. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for both of them, I recognize that they are indeed miracles, and the foundation for the Gospel. (After all, Jesus had to be born to be able to die.) But the motions of Christmas, how we celebrate, why we celebrate ... none of it makes it real to me for some reason.
Just ask Aaron. I drive him crazy every year as I pursue some big family tradition that will be like something straight from an old black and white movie. (Cough cough - "It's A Wonderful Life" - Cough Cough) I come up with one thing after another to have something to make Christmas more real to our kids than it is to me. Something that when they are grown, they'll have these wonderful memories of the great mom I am who made Christmas so special for them. (And now, I've just made Christmas about ME to my children. Hmmm.) I'm still searching.
The madness of the "Holiday" season seems to set in earlier and earlier every year. Madness like this year, hearing about the Walmart Guard dying for what??? Oh, right, some $30 special. Baking cookies, decorating the tree, buying the tree (which sets us back more and more each year), hanging the stockings, Christmas music (of which my husband loathes most of ... and in fact mocks me every day for the non-stop tunes playing at our house all of December), the Christmas plays, Hallmark specials, gift exchanges, cookie exchanges, what to buy for the person who has everything, what to buy for the child who has too much, etc, etc, etc. ..... something is missing. At least in my heart.
So again this year, I pursue God making Himself more real to me this month. I pray He makes the miracle of Christmas life changing to me and my family. I pray I am able to understand, and celebrate Advent .... not just Christmas. Until recently, I haven't even really known what "advent" means. So, what did I do??? I got a book of course. Here is what I read a few years ago that I continue to try to ponder.
"The Latin word for "advent" means "the coming". The advent season was instituted as a time of fasting for holy living, and it remains a time of inward preparation for the commemoration of the coming of Christ. It's much more than a one-day celebration, it's a month to be still and remember the God of our past, present, and future. In anticipating His first coming, we celebrate His presence in the present, and prepare for His second coming to earth."
(Okay, so I had to laugh when I read that it was a time of fasting for holy living .... HAHAHA, who fasts during December, really??? I fast .... I fast from everything but Christmas cookies and chex mix!)
So, while I'm sure I've come off as a bad Christian, maybe even NOT a Christian at all through my words ..... I really am just wanting to pursue a Jesus that is bigger than I know I've made Him out to be. A Jesus who is bigger than any representation of Christmas has made Him out to be. A Jesus, who born to a virgin, came to earth so that I can live! I don't want to just celebrate the one day that Christmas is, I want to celebrate the Advent that anticipates eternity.
In that same book, I read an old Christmas Carol/Hymn that I'd never heard of. Maybe I can talk Aaron into bringing it back. :) The words resonate with my heart right now.
"Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"
Come, Though long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's Strenth and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to thy glorious throne.
May Jesus be real to you this year as we celebrate Him in all His glory! Merry Advent!