Blessed Advent Grace Family,
This being my December newsletter article, I can imagine some may have been expecting a “Merry Christmas” greeting to start things off. That is certainly not a terribly inappropriate way to start this article, but I, for one, would rather embrace the season of Advent rather than be in a rush to get to Christmas. It is not an easy thing to do, what with just about every retail outlet putting out Christmas décor well before we even celebrate Thanksgiving. For me it creates a bit of Christmas fatigue and a real desire to just get it over with already. This is why I love Advent! For four Sundays I am reminded that the waiting, the anticipation of the Incarnation really brings back the joy of Christmas even as I am enveloped by the busyness of the season.
For many the Christmas season is filled with pressure. It is challenging to find the perfect gift for family and friends, then the pressure of shopping for those gifts, getting them wrapped, shipped to out of town family and friends, the holiday parties, making plans for Christmas Eve/Day, then the expense of it all. It is overwhelming. No wonder there is a sense of relief on December 26 for so many. It was not always that way and it certainly was not that way prior to the day of Jesus’ birth.
The stories of Jesus’ birth are filled with wonder and joy for those who were part of the story. Mary was told she would be giving birth to the Savior of the world. Joseph was also told to believe in his wife who was to give birth to a child that would change the world forever. The shepherds heard of Jesus’ birth and the Wise Men came from miles and miles away to see what that single star was all about. Few people were aware of the miracle, but all must have been filled with hope and joy. And those feelings grew and grew for the next several decades as the story continued to unfold. Waiting and anticipation has always been part of this story. It has never been rushed and there has never been a push to get it all over with.
Christmas fatigue is a modern day paradigm and one we have to really work to avoid. I think this is one of the great aspects of Advent. The stories bring us back to a different era and reset our clocks to build excitement and fight against fatigue. Advent reminds us of the story and reason we celebrate through the lens of everyone involved. It is the greatest story ever told and Jesus’ birth has the same impact today as it did more than 2,000 years ago. That is so powerful!
If you are already starting to feel that holiday fatigue, come to worship during Advent, and definitely come on Christmas Eve. Hear the stories. Feel the excitement, experience the joy of God with us. I promise it will be worth it!
Yours in Christ,