How many times have celebration preparations, customs and traditions, drowned out the joy? How many brides are exhausted, stressed-out, and disappointed when their big day arrives? How can we survive the holidays? Can we live up to the hype? Can we sustain expectations in changing times, as children move out and loved ones pass on, and life spins off in unimagined directions?
No, we can’t. It’s just too much at this or any time of year.
Happiness that comes from the external sources is but shallow and fleeting. Real joy is internal, invariable with time or circumstance. This is Christmas joy; rejoicing that Light and Love came into the world and continues to burn bright within us though darkness may fall around us. It is not the day, the tradition or the trappings that make us truly happy, but the realization that we can experience profound happiness without anything but the Savior who is the eternal source of joy.
For many, this is the season excess: more gifts, more food, more parties, more decorations, more, more, more! We jam pack our December days and nights until there is no room for another thing, another activity, another moment for anyone else. So full, yet so empty. In the days of Caesar Augustus, when a young couple came into town, there was no room for them either. The people were so full of themselves, most missed the most important event of all time. Someone made room and they were filled for a life time. This year, may we push back from the table and make room in our lives, in our budget and in our Christmas for Christ.
That is my wish as I offer twenty-five Bible based devotions for the Christmas season, Advent Emmanuel, literally “preparing for God with us”, that may bring you more insight to Christ and to yourself. When Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 2:11) His disciples had to come to a point of decision as He stood before them, looking them in the eye and asking this pivotal question. He still asks each of us this same question today. Through your daily meditation, prayer and the actions you take, may you truly come to know, or know with more conviction, who Jesus really is in your life.
Honoring the traditional Advent Calendar in which a small gift is opened each day as Christmas approaches, with each reading, I offer you a gift. It may be a gift that you receive or that you give, but either way, you will benefit from putting your faith in action.
Let’s begin the journey of this Advent season renewing our willingness to BE what God wants us to be, to SERVE whomever and wherever He desires, and to allow Him to CHANGE us into the image of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Sue Breland, Worship For One: Advent Emmanuel ©