Friday, December 17, 2010

Advent Surprise

This year would you consider taking a different approach to Christmas? I am. Instead of acting like a scrooge I'm trying to embrace all that Christmas is.

I'm thinking about Christmas as a season instead of a day. Sure, with the commercialization of Christmas you can't help but be bombarded with "stuff" from Thanksgiving to New Years. But what about taking a month long journey of meditating on the birth of Jesus?

For the first time I've taken the idea of celebrating the season of advent seriously. For some of you liturgicals your thinking, "well dugh, of course Christmas is a season and you should have been approaching it this way all along". Please give this recovering "non liturgical" a little grace as I share some thoughts.

Teaching the lectionary passages to students on Sunday nights (Isaiah) and Shawn Small's "The Via Advent" have been the primary tools God has used to take me on this journey. This long term meditation on the coming of Jesus surprised me with some thoughts and emotions I didn't expect.

1. Anticipation for the Second Coming

A common thought through advent season is "Christ has come and Christ is coming again". By teaching key passages out of Isaiah I've been forced to focus on the anticipation of the return of Jesus. To be honest I don't often focus my attention on the Second Coming, but by meditating on these passages it's awakened a longing in me for the broken world in which we live to be restored. Even as I write I can sense a longing for Jesus to return and make me and everything around me right and new.

2. A soft heart towards the Christmas story

My daily meditations have been driven primarily by the book "The Via Advent". Every time I read through the passage and watch the story unfold I shed a tear or two. I'm not sure why I'm emotional about the whole thing. Perhaps this season I'm so immersed in the story that the radical love of God is too overwhelming for me emotionally. I'm not sure I ever want to get over the love of God for his people. Or maybe it's the rawness of the characters in the story that is tugging at my emotions. Whatever the reason I know that the Christmas story is impacting my soul in a deeper way this season. For that I'm grateful.

3. Connection with the larger story

The entire story of the Bible is the story of a holy, righteous, loving and sacrificial God coming to restore and deliver His people. My favorite Christmas verse isn't found in Luke or Matthew but in Galatians.

Gal 4:4-5
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

The Christmas story is about God fulfilling his promise at the perfect time in the most unusual way.

It is such a strange way to save the world...isn't it?

Yes, Christmas is only a few days away but it's not too late to jump into the deep end. You can order "The Via Advent" and follow Shawn's thoughts on his web site

May each of us experience the joy, anticipation and mystery that accompanies this season to the glory of God. Oh come Emmanuel.

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