We want Christmas to be focused on things that matter. We want candles, and slow, delightful family gatherings. We want enjoyable parties and leisurely gift exchanges. Most of all we want Jesus, front and center, celebrated and adored, as He should be. Instead we usually get mad rushes and overspending coupled with overeating. We occasionally throw glances Jesus’ way and we give lip service to the manger. What we want and what we get are sadly often at odds with each other. This is why Advent matters. My family will celebrate Advent together, like we always do. Our church family is also celebrating. Starting today, and every day until December 25th, we will work our way through an Advent book, thinking and celebrating Jesus’ coming, in slow anticipation of Christmas morning. We usually work our way through a different Advent book each year. This year we’re using The Expected One by Scott James. Can I encourage you to celebrate Advent together, either as an individual, with your family or even with your church? Let me offer a few reasons why I think celebrating Advent is important.
1. We need to be still and know that He is God. Advent is the antidote to a consumer Christmas. Daily remembering the coming of Jesus provides an opportunity to enjoy the slow walk to the manger in the midst of the hustle of instant gratification. You and your family need this antidote. While it’s a reality that Christmas can be stressful, and it’s almost unavoidable that Christmas will be busy, Advent forces us to stop what we are doing, slow down and patiently anticipate King Jesus.
Psalm 46:10, “Stop your fighting—and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.”
2. We need to focus. Essentially every influence you will find during this Christmas season will ask you to look somewhere. Bright lights, well-designed commercials, grocery store sales and more reflect the spirit of the age. Christmas is a hyperactive dream come true. I should know. Hyperactivity is my love language. In the midst of all this, though, there is a desperate need to pay attention to one thing. At Christmas it’s easy to miss the trees for the forest. We see everything else and we miss Jesus. Advent helps us focus on the one thing that matters.
Isaiah 45:5, "I am Yahweh, and there is no other; there is no God but Me."
3. We need to resist consumerism. Every one of us reading this is a consumer. In a time when consumerism is universally seen as a bad thing, we need to remember that, fundamentally, consuming things is not bad. What is bad is looking for consumerism to serve as our hope. This is the danger of Christmas. Instead of looking to Jesus as our hope, we can be easily swayed to trust in gifts and family and celebrations and so many other things. Advent pushes back and calls us to resist the swan song of consumerism with the simple chorus of Silent Night.
Colossians 2:9-10, "For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him..."
4. We need to lead our families well. Our families are products of their environment. If we do not lead well in the celebration of Christmas, we can claim that “Jesus is the reason for the season” all we like, but our lives will continue to deny that claim. Children don’t do what we tell them to do; they do what we do. When your family looks at your life, do they see a glad celebration of the coming of your true King, or do they see your lip service to Jesus while you practically bow down at the feet of all the other things that fill this time of the year? Advent is an opportunity for you to simply, and powerfully, point your family to Jesus every day this month; to remind them that in the midst of all that December is, it is most importantly a celebration of our King.
Proverbs 22:6, "Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
5. We need to savor Jesus. Finally, we need Advent because we need Jesus. Nothing satisfies like Jesus, and far too often we run through this month trying to be satisfied by a thousand other things. We need to sit at the feet of Jesus every day, drinking in the reminders of his coming. We need to be restored and encouraged by his affection for us, his sacrificial coming, his triumphant crushing of Satan’s head and his victoriously impoverished birth, sounding the note of victory for our God and King. We need Advent because we need Jesus, and nothing I know is more important than that.
John 6:35, “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again."
If you are looking for an Advent devotional to use with your family, I would highly recommend The Expected One by Scott James.