Monday, December 1, 2014

The Advent Season Is Upon Us....

(a note I wrote to Kairos)

In reflecting tonight on our Worship Gathering, I had an assortment of seemingly jumbled, unconnected thoughts...the importance of meditating on and adhering to God's good it is to participate in regular intervals of congregational (church family) kids' excitement at the homes with Christmas lights already up...Somehow I landed at how important it is for us, for Christ-followers, to take pause of the Christmas season before we find ourselves dazed on the doorstep of December 25th wondering where the time went!
What more can we expect from ourselves when the season is already wrought with extra familial engagements and gifts to be purchased and given? Oh of course we can add waxy advent chocolate calendars, coat drives, carols, Christmas plays, gifts for orphans, secret Santas, sugar cookies and decorations galore. All good things. But these elements in and of themselves are incomplete. They should be a byproduct, not a substitution for, the meaningful pause of the Advent season as we joyously look forward to the celebration of Christ's birth!
But, you may wonder, why should we pause? Why add another cookie to Santa's plate? 
We pause because we are a fickle people. We pause because we forget. We no longer engage in annual, week long festivals throughout the year as the ancient Israelites did, to celebrate and commemorate what the Lord has done and to anticipate what He will do. We no longer have to engage in the physical act of sacrifices and offerings as the priests did who went before us, visceral reminders of the sin separating us from God and the atonement made because of the poured out life of the slaughtered lamb. We do not pause, we do not see, we do not touch, we do not speak. We are a roaming, often unrooted and harried culture. We think that the here and now is all there is, that the family traditions and gift giving will make or break the season. 
...Yet we are called to partake in something more. 
We are a people set apart, holy, and to be firmly rooted in what Christ has done for us and the joyous occasion His entrance into that manger scene set into motion. We are commanded to open our mouths and tell of the great things He has done for us, loud and strong echoes of the words of our ancient brothers and sisters. We are still called to celebrate and commemorate, when we assemble together in Worship Gatherings, at Missional Communities and in the privacy of our homes, parents- first and foremost with our children! 
So, how? What does it look like to take a meaningful pause? 
We can begin with asking questions like: What did Christ's birth mean for the Israelites when the first angels appeared heralding the new born baby from the sky? What did it mean for all of humanity? For me individually? What does Jesus' birth mean for the way we live now and the glorious hope of the Kingdom to come? Too often we can leave the grand telling of the story of God's engagement with our world and His engagement with us up to Sunday school teachers or the Charlie Brown Christmas special. 
Pause. Take time to think. It might be uncomfortable, it might take work. But if you are looking to find space between minutes, to stretch this season so that you are fully in it and it's not just slipping through your fingers, take the time to wrestle this Christmas meaning out. Pause and invite your loved ones into unharried conversation, into searching the Scriptures or seeking God together with prayer and singing. Time slows when we are fully present with one another; time stands still when we are in the presence of God. 
Our children need to hear the Christmas story from us. Our children need to know that it is their story, that it's a story still relevant today, just as life giving and hope inspiring now as it was when it occurred those thousands of years ago. And it is often in the telling that we are reminded that it is still our story too.
For me, intentionally studying and participating in the Advent season each December becomes more meaningful with each passing year. I am looking forward to beginning again with my daughters tomorrow and with all of you as we worship together in the weeks leading up to Christmas. 
Here are two resources that I'm using now with my kids (the link below as well as Truth in the Tinsel). They might be a good fit for your family too if you have little ones, but if not I encourage you to seek something out that will help keep your mind and heart fixed on our Savior!

"then came Jesus" release from Lara Williams on Vimeo.

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