december 9

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The gift of surrender

My favorite character in the Christmas story, maybe even the entire bible is Mary, the mother of Jesus. I know, I know, choosing Mary as your favorite Bible character is like choosing Kermit as your favorite Muppet, or pizza as your favorite food. You aren’t surprised by the fact that I like Mary, she’s easy to like.

In the advent story, Mary is the one everything seems to be, “happening to,” right? If the Christmas story was a movie, she would be the the one everyone would be rooting for.

15 year old girl, pregnant, not married, has to go on a trip on a donkey, even though she is ready to pop. Just the basic facts of the story are nuts, but then you add in the way the events came about.

Just imagine for a minute that you are a 15 year old girl…

You are engaged to a man you barely know (That’s kinda how it was back then). You are fast asleep, when you get woke up by a blinding light. As you shield your face, and attempt to get a glimpse of this thing that has taken over your room, it begins to speak. The first words out of its mouth are…

“Mary, don’t be afraid.”

Huh? Don’t be afraid? I don’t know about you, but if something woke me up, that I couldn’t see because it was so bright and started talking to me in the middle of the night, “afraid,” would be a conservative way to describe what I would be feeling.

The angel continues…

“You are pregnant Mary, oh yeah, and the baby’s daddy, is God.”

As Mary collects herself, she musters the courage to ask…

What? How is this possible?

As the interaction continues, Mary learns that God has chosen her, to mother the savior of the world.

At this point there has to be a million things going through her head right?

When you get pregnant by God, does the pregnancy still last 9 months?
What is the son of God going to look like?
Is it going to hurt?
I’m not ready to be a mother am I?
How do you raise the savior of the world?
What is Joseph gonna think?

With these things, and certainly a lot of others swirling in her head, she is in shock. It’s one of those moments that is sure to reveal the heart of Mary. Whatever words come out next are, certain to be the most real, raw, and unfiltered response she has ever given…

What did she say?

“Behold, the bond servant of the Lord. May it be done to me, according to your word.”

Huh? Seriously?

These words are the perfect words, but Mary didn’t have a script. These words sound as though they should be coming from the mouth of someone who understands, who has it figured out, who has the ability to manage.

Mary is staring down the barrel of one of the most difficult life situations anyone, anywhere throughout all of history has ever and will ever be asked to walk through.

And this is her response.

“Whatever you say, whatever you want. I am your servant.”

This response was pure and unadulterated. It was default, even knee jerk. Her willingness to surrender in this moment, seemingly without even a thought, reveals the very reason why God chose her to begin with.

Mary lived a life of default surrender.

This response, when we consider it’s context, is the most incredible display of faith this world has ever seen.

Mary lived a regular, typical, even boring life. She wasn’t extra special, or radically different. Accept for this one thing…

Her heart, her life, her entire existences was postured for the worship of her heavenly Father. She saw her life not as her own, but as a tool for glorifying and elevating the almighty. The result was, a willingness to lay everything down, at the drop of a hat, for the chance to be part of something bigger than herself.

This choice, this posture, this surrender, allowed her to experience something no human being would ever or could ever know.

She got to feel the gentle kick of the unborn savior inside her belly.
She got to hold the Messiah as He took His first earthly breath.
She got to clean the wound of an adolescent Jesus when he fell and skinned knees.
She got to watch Him teach. She got to watch Him heal.
She got see Him change the social structure of a nation.
She got to see Him look into the face of the broken, heal them, and make them whole

She got to see Him give His life for the sins of the entire world, both past and present.

Why?

Because she chose to embrace the advent gift of SURRENDER.

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december 8

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The gift of mystery.

For those of you reading this post that know me well, it is no secret that I live much of my life with my head in the clouds. I am the consummate dreamer. I love to look on the horizon and imagine what could be that isn’t. The result of that tends to be a relative contentment with chaos. I’m ok with not knowing all the details. In fact, for me, there is a measure of comfort in the mystery of the unknown and unknowable.

All human beings are finite in nature, which naturally gives way to the simple reality, we can’t know everything.

Mystery is part of the human experience.

Some of us handle that better than others, but all of us, at some point or another come face to face with something we don’t know, and have to figure out how we are going to deal with the mystery.

The story of advent invites us to not only accept our nature as limited, but to, in an ultimate sense embrace the mystery that comes with it, and marvel in the wonder it offers.

The sheer volume of unexplainable events within the Christmas narrative, forces us to a place of wonder.

Son of God? Virgin birth? A magic star? Angels filling the sky?

Friends, these things don’t make sense…

I am convinced that the commercialization of Christmas has stolen the mystery from it all. We put out manger scenes, that look like they are set on a farm somewhere in the middle of Iowa. Naturally, they are complete with a pale skinned, blonde hair, blue eyed baby Jesus, that somehow brings him down to a level we can understand. We put angels or stars on the top of Christmas trees, in an attempt to paint for ourselves a picture of the first Christmas that fits within the framework of life as we know it, all the while, unknowingly de-mystifying the events surrounding the first Christmas.

So what right? Anything that might help us better understand the story?

I’m not convinced.

I believe that God desires that we regularly bump up against our human limitations, leading us to a place of wonder. The problem is, we hate not knowing, because we hate not feeling in control. Somewhere in human history, we decided that the words, “I don’t know,” are a sign of weakness… so we refuse to put ourselves in a position to every feel it.

I fear, the unintended consequences of seeking to “understand everything,” steals the mystery this story was intended inspire within our hearts.

Mystery makes us wonder, and wonder is the gateway to genuine worship.

The first people to hear about the birth of the saving Lord, understood this well…

The shepherds… out in the fields, keeping their flocks that night. When the sky, suddenly filled with angles, proclaiming the birth of the King. Their response to this unexplainable event? Wonder. That led them to the place where Jesus lay.

“Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see!”

Their willingness to embrace the mystery, even become captive to it, allowed them to experience the impossible in a way most of us only dream.

They were willing to wonder. They were willing to be amazed, they were willing to embrace the mystery that this night was intended to gift to us.

Have you lost the freedom to wonder? Are you allowing, “What’s possible,” to steal the mystery of advent?

Every time we are faced with something we don’t know, we are invited into the advent story. We are invited to push away the desire to figure it out, and embrace the gift of mystery, that moves our hearts to a place of worship.

May your hearts be filled with wonder this Christmas as you embrace the mystery of the Advent season.

december 7

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A few years ago, I did a teaching series at Finding Life for the month of December, called, “Found.”

As I was reading some of the messages from that series this morning, I was once again overwhelmed with a simple reality that screams off the pages of the Christmas Narrative.

Jesus came to find me.

The 7th gift I am re-discovering in the story of advent, is the gift of being FOUND.

From the time I was a little kid, until I moved out of my parents home, every Easter, my dad would create for my siblings and I, a hunt. A treasure hunt. Like any good treasure hunt, we began with a single clue that led us to the next clue, and the next, and then next, until we found the final clue that would lead us to the treasure. The treasure was always fun to find, but really what created a sense of excitement for this every year was the hunt itself.

It was always really challenging, so every year, as we got older, smarter, and more physically capable, the physical, mental and emotional challenge to find each clue became more demanding as well.

It was like a game of Chess.

We would spend hours and hours hunting, and the barriers to the treasure were real, and far from simple. I think my dad enjoyed watching us struggle. From hilltop hikes, to digging through restaurant pies to find our next clue,  there was virtually no limit to the hurdles we would find in our path.

The struggle was real.

But, the beauty was found in the struggle. The harder it was, the more gratifying the final uncovering of the treasure became.

The struggle made the entire thing worth it.

The story of Advent was the most epic treasure hunt that anyone has ever gone on.

The hunter in this scenario, was the God of the universe, and the treasure… well,

the treasure was…

YOU.

In this treasure hunt, the power was found in the barriers God blew through to find you, and the beauty was in the reality that the God of the universe sees you as a treasure worth hunting down.

Sit there for a moment… consider that…

You, are valuable enough to the creator of the starts, that He was willing to embark on a journey, a treasure hunt after your life, your freedom, your hope. He chose to come find you. This is true about every single human life. Bottom line… If the only thing God had to gain by coming to this earth, was your life, He would have done it a million times over. That is how valuable your life is to your creator.

What’s even crazier is that,

When He went looking, you weren’t asking to be found.
When He found you, you told Him to get lost.
When you told Him to get lost, He said,

Sorry, there is nothing you can do to keep me from coming after your heart, every day, for the rest of your life.

You are the treasure in the greatest treasure hunt anyone has ever embarked upon. That hunt began when Jesus entered the world as a tiny infant over 2,000 years ago, and it continues to this day.

Believe this…

Your God will not rest, until you are found.  In Him… healed and whole, forgiven, and free.

May the power of His pursuit, fill you with hope this Advent season.

december 6

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I’m traveling today. I don’t travel a lot, but every time I do, I am reminded of something…

I hate waiting.

Everything about the process of getting on an airplane seems to be designed for the purpose of making you wait.

You wait at the ticket counter, then you wait, to wait in the security line. The best part of this wait, is that your pants won’t stay up, cuz you have taken your belt off, and you are kicking yourself for forgetting that in the airport your underwear becomes your outerware, and your socks are simply not airport appropriate. If you get through the security line and don’t feel like the TSA officer owes you a date, or at least a drink, you earn the right to wait at the gate for the flight attendants to tell you they are ready for you.

You wait on the plain
You wait on the runway
You wait when you land
You wait at the gate again
You wait at the baggage claim

You wait at the rental car line

All you really do is wait.

Did I mention I hate waiting?

The truth is, no one really enjoys waiting, because waiting is simply the delay of a comfort that we seek. Really, we should probably avoid waiting, at all costs right? It can’t really help us can it?

Unless… well, here’s the thing…

God designed us to be people who wait… often.

If you read the stories leading up to Advent, the crazy amounts of waiting is impossible to miss. Why? I

don’t know for sure, but I do know that the essence of waiting assumes a lack of control. In any context, the “waiter,” is never the one running the show. The one who is waiting is at the mercy of whoever they are waiting for.

So, clearly, one of the gifts God intended to give mankind in the Christmas story was the gift of waiting.

The choice to wait, assumes a level of faith. When you lose faith, you stop waiting.

We live in a world that is allergic to waiting. We want everything fast, we want everything easy, we want everything when we decide it’s time.

We want to eliminate, or at least, minimize the amount of time we spend waiting for anything.

Here’s the thing…

All the power of Advent is found in the waiting.

As we wait, we experience surrender, as we take on a posture of humility toward the one we are waiting for.

Charles Stanley said this…

As we wait for Him, we open our hearts and lives to the powerful and beautiful shaping our Father wants to do in our lives.

Psalm 37:7 says…

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him

So, the big question is…

What does it mean to wait? Today, tomorrow… This Christmas…

What might God want to do in your heart, in your life?

How might he be longing to shape you… if only you would choose to wait.

december 5

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Its Monday… my, “day off.”

I put that phrase in air quotes because when you are the father of a high schooler, a middle schooler and a first grader, you are never really off. Then there is the over obsession most church planting pastors tend to have with “getting crap done.” Days off are hard for me.

But, regardless of what my parenting/church planting life is like, Monday’s are my day of rest.

Which brings me to gift number 5 of my advent reflections…

The gift of REST.

Rest…

is there anything more fleeting in this world than rest? Is there anything more desired than rest? Is there anything more hope giving or life giving than true rest?

If you are anything like me, the answer to that question is an emphatic NO! Whether it is a lazy Saturday morning of sleeping in, and hanging out in your pajamas all day, or a Sunday afternoon of lying on the couch, watching golf, and fading in and out of an afternoon siesta,

REST. IS. GOOD.

It is REALLY good.

As much as I love to be lazy, the kind of rest that was gifted to mankind in the birth of Jesus, is not like this rest at all. The kind of rest I am talking about is the kind that can’t be quantified by hours of sleep, or moments of half consciousness, on a Sunday afternoon. This kind of rest is the kind that changes everything about the way we view our lives, our world, our selves.

It’s THIS kind of rest…

“Come, all of you who are weary, and broken down. Come, drink from the waters of eternal life, and never thirst again. Let me take your load, and give you a light one. Let me relieve the burden of your fight.”

This is a loose paraphrase of something Jesus said in Matthew chapter 11. It’s kind of the reason He made His way to this terrestrial ball.

See, Jesus came not just to die, but He came to show humanity how to truly live.

Like that line? I cant take credit for it, It is a phrase I first heard from Alan Hirsch, a writer, speaker, and academic. One of my heroes, and a man I have learned so much from.

Jesus came to show us that life in Him, is a life free from worry, a life free from stress, a life free from burden.

Life in Him, is a life, identified by REST.

I’m not saying Jesus came to make our lives easy, He never promised that. What I am saying is that Jesus came to offer us Rest, in the midst of a life that tends to be filled with all kinds of things we simply can’t control. In the midst of all that He came to offer us rest.

Rest for our souls.

Deuteronomy 33 says

“Let the beloved of the Lord REST secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves REST between his shoulders.”

That fateful night, when Mary labored, for who knows how long, and gave birth to the savior of the world, lots of profound things happened. But one of the biggest things that happened was that this baby, this newborn, this infant, had arrived on this earth to give you rest.

REST from your worry about why you exist.

REST from your concern about what might happen to your kids.

REST from your wondering about how you are going to pay your next bill.

REST from your fear that you can’t measure up.

REST from your overwhelming and crippling desire to be good enough.

REST from the rat race of a performance driven lifestyle that can only leave you aching.

REST from the desperate attempt to measure up to a standard no human ever can.

Cuz’ here’s the thing… you can’t and in the economy of mercy, you don’t have to. Understanding and embracing that is in fact the gateway to true REST.

Friends, freedom from a performance driven lifestyle, resting in the power of God’s grace is the best life you can possibly live.

I cant imagine wanting anything more for the people I love than to know that in the coming of our Savior, Jesus…

There is REST.

And I pray you experience it this Christmas.

REST.

december 4

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The gift of nearness.

The Christmas story is like a dinner party, with a really ambitious host.

This really ambitious host pulled out all the stops for this one. He bought the food, paid for the wine, and carefully chose every detail in the decor. But, the guest list, that was the most important thing of all. He spent hours agonizing over each person who would be their. He placed name tags on every tables, hand written, and perfectly positioned. Each person in the room was valuable to him, for different reasons, and he wanted them to experience the party uniquely. So he positioned them intentionally and carefully, for their own good, for their own security, for their own sense of comfort, that they might enjoy their evening unhindered, free, and in all ways, how he designed it.

He made party favors, filled with things only he could give away, things only he had access to, but things that everyone at that party needed. In order to ensure that he got to personally connect with every one of his guests he decided that he wanted give the party favors away personally throughout the night, that way he would connect intimately with each guest.

He wanted to look into their eyes, thank each one of them for coming, with sincerity. His greatest fear was that someone might leave that party, not knowing how excited he was that they came. Or, that they might leave wondering if he even knew they were there.

As the party begins, and the room starts to fill up, The host is standing at one end of the room. He is looking around at what he has created, and he loves it. He loves watching his guests interact with one another. He loves watching them enjoy the good food, and the delicious drinks. Most of all he loves watching them enjoy one another. The party is perfect, its exactly what he imagined. Even better.

As the evening wears on, he begins to make his way around the room to really start connecting with people and handing out his party favors. He tries on occasion to jump into the conversations people are having, to engage with his guests, to let them know he is there, and that he would love for them to know the lengths he went to to make there evening great.

But its loud. Its crowded, and its seems to be really chaotic. Every one has become very distracted by all the amazing things he has done. Small talk, more to drink, more small talk, and even more to drink. Throughout the evening it just keeps getting louder, and there seems to be less and less opportunity for him to actually connect with any of His guests.

He is frustrated, but still very much on a mission.

“My guests will know why they are here. I will make sure of it.” he thinks to himself.

In the latter hours of the party, things have just gotten out of control. Every last guest is hammered drunk, and by this time, no one has much of any sense of why they were there to begin with. Some people begin leaving, stumbling out the door. He runs to try and catch them before they do, but its too late, they disappear into the snowy night.

He thinks to himself… “Are people really going to come here, eat my food, drink my wine, and leave never knowing the real purpose for the party? Not knowing what I had to offer them if they would have just acknowledged my presence?”

His heart breaks with every slam of the door, signifying another guest leaving in anonymity. Without the amazing gifts he so carefully prepared.

As the chaos of “the end” begins to take over, He feels he is losing control.  Like if he doesn’t do something big, loud, and significant, everyone will just leave, and miss out on the very purpose of the party.

The more people leave, the more his sense of urgency rises, along with his blood pressure. He just wants them to know why He invited them… but they are too busy finding their coats, too drunk to be aware of his presence, and too selfish to see that there is more…

The urgency of the moment finally catches up with Him, and with all the emotion he can muster the host yells out as loud as he possibly can…

WAIT!!!! YOU HAVE ALL MISSED SOMETHING!

I AM HERE! I INVITED YOU BECAUSE I WANTED TO GET TO KNOW YOU. I BROUGHT YOU HERE TO EXPERIENCE MY PRESENCE, MY PERSON, MY NEARNESS

YOU ARE ALL MISSING IT!

Friends, this is the Christmas story.

God is, and has been present in this world from the beginning. His desire was always, that we might know him personally and experience Him intimately. Yet we, as people have grown distracted.

He wanted to get our attention. He wanted to make a splash, to have an impact. He wanted to change the course of history.

And He would.

Yet, instead of yelling and making a scene, instead, God chose to enter the world in total obscurity, humility and irrelevance. It was quiet and soft, it was unnoticed by most, but it paved the way for the greatest story of redemption that would ever be told…

God, creator, and sustainer, entered the world. It didn’t make a huge noise, but it did make a huge impact
God is not indifferent to your struggles

God is not waiting for you to screw up

God is not looking for His chance to smite you

God is not too busy for you

God is personal

God is accessible

God is relentlessly pursuing your heart…

God is near.

december 3

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The gift of…

silence.

Like the gentle kiss of a snow flake reaching the pavement, the Christmas story screams to all of us,

Be. Silent.

Noisy doesn’t equal impact.

Louder isn’t better.

The most powerful noise in the history of the world was the silence found in the stillness of this most holy night.

Be. Silent.

december 2

wp-cloudy-simple-940x588.pngIts 11:35pm, on December 2nd.

I made the commitment to post a reflection every day leading up to Christmas, and already, after just 2 days, I am up against the clock. How? What?

Its ironic then, that the advent gift I had already chosen for day 2, was…

The gift of SIMPLICITY.

My life has been anything but simple today.

Truth be told, my life is rarely simple.

As human beings, living in America, in 2016, simplicity is just not something we know how to do. Everything we hear and see every day, is pressuring us to do more, go faster and drive harder. We measure our success by our level of activity, not the quality of our activity. The result, is the rat race that is American society. Keep performing, keep climbing, keep, keeping up.

Everything we understand about life in our world today screams the opposite of simplicity.

And then there is the Christmas story. The story of the birth of Jesus. The most significant event in human history. God, made flesh, living among the very things and people He Himself spoke into existence. Breathing our air, walking our soil… or is it his soil? His air? Yeah, it’s His air.

This story, is laced with simplicity, clothed in stillness, and screams humility.

This story, the most unbelievable story every lived, can only be described as…

SIMPLE.

Babies are simple… All they do is eat, poop and Cry. This is the context God chose to enter our world

The town of Bethlehem… Small, humble, barely on the map

Jesus earthly father, Jospeh… A craftsman, working with his hands to make ends meet

A Virgin… pure, innocent, untouched.

Everything about this holy night was designed with simplicity in mind. Heck, the first people to find out about the birth of the greatest king that would ever live, was a group of dirty, smelly, insignificant shepherds.

So what about us then?

Are we willing to go about our lives as usual? Are we willing to chalk up the complexity of our lives to a cultural normality?

The craziest thing of all, is that most of us who claim to worship this infant King Jesus, gladly and enthusiastically admit that the season set aside to celebrate Him is, in fact, our most complex season of all.

What? How? It SIMPLY shouldn’t be so…

Have we really missed it that badly?

Jesus, instead of filling my Advent with more, give me the courage to engage with less. Instead of scurrying from one thing to the next give me the wisdom to stop, to slow down, and to simplify.

The story of Advent gifted us the freedom to value SIMPLICITY, even when our world is screaming for complexity…

May we choose to embrace the gift of SIMPLICITY as we count down the days to the celebration of our dear saviors birth, and rest in the gift of less.

december 1

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Today is day one of my 25 day “advent reflection.” Each day for the next 25, I will  be reflecting on one of the intangible gifts that came to the human race through the birth of Jesus.

Today’s gift… Hope.

Possibly my favorite line of any song I have ever heard, comes from an old Christmas carol called “O Holy night.”

What, you have heard it?

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”

Something about this line stirs my soul. The images that come to mind every time I hear or sing this song give me chills. Not the kind of chills that give you goose bumps for a moment, the kind of chills that feel like they begin deep in the recesses of your soul, slowly making their way to the surface. Goose bumps, hair standing on end, and for me, these kind of chills inevitably result in some kind of wet, salty discharge from the corners of my eyes. I don’t know what it is, maybe its allergies?

I see the exhilaration of a runner in the final pass of an excruciatingly long race, as the finish line comes into view.

A THRILL OF HOPE.

I see the tearful smile on the face of a new mother who has endured 9 months of pregnancy, and a long grueling labor holding her son for the very first time, gazing deeply into his eyes.

A THRILL OF HOPE.

I hear the giggle of a 7 year foster child who just received news that she is being adopted, and will soon have her very own forever family.

A THRILL OF HOPE

I see a Syrian refugee’s face, as he stands on a beach, awaiting the safe arrival of his wife, and 2 children fleeing to America from a land that has brought nothing but fear, pain, and struggle. A boat comes into view, they are aboard.

A THRILL OF HOPE.

Even as I write these words, my eyes fill with tears.

I sense the collective sigh of relief on the lips of an entire race of people who have lived as slaves, wandered in the desert, lived in exile, fought for their place, watched loved ones die at the hands of their enemies, for generations, and generations. They had been promised reconciliation, redemption, belonging and freedom. They were promised that one man would come, and his coming would mark the beginning of their restoration as a people. But they have waited, and waited, clinging to a promise given to them by their ancestors, wondering if it would ever come true. Losing hope, with every passing day.

I sense their weariness… I can feel their hopelessness, confusion and wondering.

Until this baby was born. The Messiah. In a barn, in Bethlehem, in total obscurity.

In that moment, fear was replaced with Hope. And it was… THRILLING!

A THRILL OF HOPE

He was finally doing it! The promise of the Prophet Isaiah was coming to fruition… They could see it, taste it, and feel it. Finally.

A THRILL OF HOPE.

Isaiah 43:19
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

One of the most profoundly powerful outcomes of Advent was the gift of hope restored to a weary people.

Maybe you feel weary… run down, afraid. Maybe you wonder if you will ever feel hopeful again.

The gift of advent is a gift that begins with hope.

“Look at my Servant, Jesus, whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved, who pleases me.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not fight or shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
And his name will be the hope
of all the world.”

Jesus didn’t just come to die for you, he came to give you hope. To restore your belief, to make your joy complete in Him. He came to give you life, that is firmly rooted in the hope that only he can offer.

Let the God who’s perfect knowledge means He has no use for hope, restore your hope today.

May you experience this Christmas season…

A THRILL OF HOPE.

Reflections for Advent

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Tis’ the season…

The season for shopping, eating, giving, sharing, decorating, baking, resting…

Or maybe its the season for, hurting, missing, wondering, longing, aching…

No matter what sorts of emotions come flooding into your heart this time of year, one thing is for certain. You can’t avoid it. Like it or not, the Holiday season is everywhere. Starting some time in November the local Wal Mart began filling their aisles with tinsel, and advertising all the things you and your family need this year. Even more striking is the speed at which it will come, and then go, as fast as it arrived. It may only be November 29th but, go ahead… blink… I dare you… Like the unexpected and rapid change of the weather in Nebraska, before you know it, this “season,” will be gone, and we will be on to the next.

For better or worse, this seems to be a simple reality of this time of year. We cannot slow it down, no matter how hard we may try, no matter how badly we may want to.

Unless…

Well, what if…

What if this season is supposed to be fast? What if trying to slow it down, goes against its intended purpose? (I will get back to this eventually)

The word Advent is a word many people in America use to describe the days leading up to Christmas. Usually, “Advent,” is something that begins December 1st, and ends December 25th. Advent has become a kind of “Christian count down to Christmas,” of sorts. We use chalk boards, felt calendars with Bible verses for each day, and a number of other things to create a kind of, “build up,” to the big day. The day we celebrate the birth of Jesus right?

Or, is it the day we open presents? Or gather around the tree? Or Play the same games, eat the same food and sing the same songs? I forgot what I was talking about… There just seems to be so much to get lost in.

Oh yeah, Advent…

Here’s a funny question,

Do we really know what advent means? Do we know what its about? In our attempts to be extra Christiany, during a holiday season we probably should be, have we missed it altogether?

Probably. Why?

Because one thing I know Christians tend to be really good at, is missing the point.

Is it possible that our understanding of advent, has actually kept us from fully connecting with why we count down these days to begin with?

I think so.

The word advent means, the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. I didn’t make up this definition, I googled it, so it has to be right. Right?

The reason we call December 1st, through December 25th, on the Western, European calendar, “Advent,” is because over 2,000 years ago, a baby was born that marked the end of a historic wait. The people of God, however, waited a little more than 25 days to celebrate their advent.

They waited generations.

And theirs had a lot more at stake. Their advent was more than a tree, a meal and a few neatly wrapped presents. They were waiting for the promise of redemption, freedom & reconciliation.

Their count down wasn’t 25 days, and didn’t have an expected ending. It was indefinite. Imagine the anxiety, the wondering, the confusion.

What they were waiting for was so much different than what we wait for every year. Right?

Except that it was exactly what we wait for today… or at least it is supposed to be. Chew on that for a minute.

We have definitely missed something.

If we were to connect with what the word advent may have meant to the ancient people of God in the days leading up to the birth of the Messiah, I wonder if it might make the 25 day wait, filled with parties, missile toe and Holiday movies, a little more meaningful.

That is my goal.

Beginning December 1, for whoever cares to tune in, I will be posting a daily reflection, with the intended purpose of recapturing the meaning of the word Advent.

Mostly for myself and my family… If you too feel you may have gotten lost in the Christmas extras, and year after year fail to connect, no matter how much you want to, with the intended power of this season, then journey with me.

Either way, I look forward to re capturing the beauty of advent in my life, in 2016.

Thanks for listening.