We are, once again, entering the Advent Season. Advent literally means the arrival of someone, or something, of great importance, but for us it is more than just marking the calendar to make note of his arrival. We all know that our celebration of Jesus’ birth is on December 25th, but still, we deliberately set aside four weeks, and four Sundays, prior to that for special recognition and celebration?
We set aside time, because we are creatures of habit. We get in ruts, we get stuck in our routines and habits, and we tend to live every week in the same pattern as the last. If we allow ourselves to do that at Christmas, then Jesus’ birthday will get overrun with the busyness of the ordinary and ordinary is the one thing that it should never become.
Instead, we set aside Advent as a season of preparation just as we set aside Lent as a season to prepare for Easter. For four weeks, we remember and reflect on the many aspects of the Christmas story. We remember the shepherds and the angels, Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Anna and Simeon, and finally, the arrival of Jesus. Each of the characters of the Christmas story have something to tell us and we can be shaped by God as we learn from them.
I hope that you will join us on this journey of preparation. Oh sure, you can just pop in on Christmas Eve and feel as if you’ve worshipped, but then you’ll have missed the greater message. You could save a lot of time if you only watched the last ten minutes of Star Wars or Casablanca or Gone with the Wind. But while only watching the climax of the story may inform you how the story ends, it doesn’t carry you along on the journey, it doesn’t inspire, it doesn’t stir your emotions or let you feel the passion of the story.
To say that you have experienced these films and been changed or shaped by them, you need to watch the whole thing, often more than once. We watch them, and we imagine ourselves as a part of the story. We take the time to put ourselves in the place of the characters and imagine what it would be like to live through the story as they did. Good movies, and good books, do all those things to us and this is the story that surpasses them all. This is the greatest story ever told.
And so, I invite you to join us on an Advent journey as we prepare our hearts for the arrival of the King of kings. I hope that, if you can, you will commit yourselves to worshipping with us, not just on Christmas Eve, but every week during this sacred season of preparation. Allow yourself to be drawn into the story, to experience its drama, its emotions, and its passion. I promise that if you do, you will experience a Christmas Eve, and a Christmas, that will be more deeply meaningful, more passionate, more life-changing, than you will ever find possible by simply skipping to the end of the story.
Won’t you join us on this amazing journey?