I love the days leading up to Christmas. Visiting family, enjoying great food, and seeing the anticipation for Christmas grow in my grandchildren are a few of my favorite things about this time of year. However, what I enjoy most is the celebration centered around Christ’s birth.
Every year there seems to be an uproar over when it’s considered too early to begin the Christmas season. Some put away the fall decor and break out the Christmas tree weeks before Thanksgiving. Others wait until the Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone before even considering making the holiday transition.
While some prepare weeks or months ahead for the commercial aspects of Christmas, many believers have forgotten the practice of preparing their hearts for Christmas through the celebration of Advent.
The journey to the manager
Traditionally celebrated during the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day, Advent is a beautiful reminder of the journey to the manger. It prepares the hearts of believers for the arrival of our Savior. Advent provides all believers the chance to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas early by intentionally slowing down and following the biblical journey leading to Christ’s birth.
This beautiful tradition has gradually been lost in many denominations today. However, it should be a time of year where we grow deeper in our faith as we meditate on the events leading up to the birth of Christ. Both on a family and individual level, participating in Advent is a meaningful way to celebrate Christmas early.
Taking time to read an Advent devotional or follow Advent Scripture readings keeps my focus on what Christ’s birth means while I continue to enjoy traditional Christmas festivities. Learning more about the trials leading up to His birth also provides comfort and assurance that the trials we face now are only temporary.
Think about Joseph and Mary in the moments after their son’s birth. They held their baby and knew they were looking at God. Imagine how they must have felt! The event of Christ’s birth was history-making, but often we are too quick to pause there and not consider what happened next.
Mary and Joseph had the honor and responsibility of caring for Jesus, not just as a newborn, but for years to come. He was theirs to nurture and guide in every season, whether they were safe in a stable or running for their lives from a king. The image of Mary and Joseph physically carrying baby Jesus into their next season both warms my heart and convicts it.
Carry Christ into the next season
It can be easy to follow Advent for a few weeks, celebrate the birth of Jesus, and then tuck the story away. However, we need to be intentional about carrying Christ into the next season of our lives as well.
That’s the power of Advent. Hope is born at Christmas, but the hope that is only found in Jesus is what sustains us all year. Even if you missed the majority of the celebration of Advent this year, you don’t need to miss out on the power of Advent for the rest of your life.
As you consider your next season, think about this: Christmas and Jesus’ birth not only point us to Easter, but to the in-between – to seasons of new beginnings, of growing pains, of refinement. These are the seasons in which we need Jesus and His everlasting hope the most.
I encourage you to take a step back this Christmas and allow yourself space to participate in Advent as we focus our minds and hearts on celebrating Christ’s coming. When Christmas comes to an end and 2022 approaches, I encourage you to include Jesus in every season. Build your goals for the next season on the power that Jesus brings – a power that doesn’t begin or end at His birth but continues through every part of our lives.
Rob Hoskins is the President of OneHope. Since taking leadership of OneHope in 2004 he has continued to advance the vision of God’s Word. Every Child. by partnering with local churches to help reach more than 1.7 BILLION children and youth worldwide with a contextualized presentation of God’s Word. Read more by Rob Hoskins at goodnewsfl.org/author/rob-hoskins/