If you were to look around at our home, as long as you didn't look at the mess of boxes downstairs, you would think that we're really into Christmas. We have a ginormous tree decked with ornaments, a couple different nativities, greenery and lights all around.
It looks pretty festive around here. But the truth is we don't really do a big Christmas celebration. On Christmas Day, we wake up, maybe open some gifts and then hurry off to church for a time of fellowship. We come home, maybe watch a movie and generally pass out. Christmas always sneaks up on me. And it's not that kind of sneak up of "oh, I'm not prepared, go away and come back later!". It's more of a "when did you get here?" kind of sneak.
This year, with our daughter being older, I've been enjoying our celebration of Advent so much more. Advent is that time of waiting before Christmas Day, it begins on the first day of December (sometimes earlier) and it includes the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. We have been gathering right after dinner and reading from various books that we've collected over the years. On Sunday we light our wreath, every day we have little treats to eat (think Dove chocolates and ghiradelli peppermint bark). It's been nice to pause in the midst of everything that has been happening.
Unfortunately, the pausing has pointed out how crazy hectic times are right now. People want to eat together, they want to see one another's faces, they want to celebrate. They want to share God's love! Which is wonderful and just a bit exhausting. I mean can't we spread some of this love around? Can't we take some of this jam packed love fest that starts on December 1st, or earlier if you want to count all the shopping and planning we do, a let it ooze out into the rest of the year?
Honestly, what would happen if we ate together and loved on one another in January the way we do in December? How would our days be different if this anticipation of the coming King infiltrated our lives to the he point that it truly was Christmas all year?
In our home, we celebrate the waiting, the anticipation. And I think something that we've been learning is that the stuff that's been created to mimic the return of our King, you know the lavish presents and decadent meals of Christmas Day, it's hollow. It disappoints and makes the ache even worse. I don't know that we would have ever noticed it, if we didn't celebrate the waiting. But because I wait, I long for Him. The thing that surprises me most is that it didn't take much for this longing to stir. I didn't have to cultivate hours of quiet time or set aside days of worship. No it was stirred with the simple act of stopping for a few minutes and enjoying something sweet. It causes that ache to grow. I have to live with it now. I have to carry my desire to see God's face with me. I look for Him. I want so badly to find Him. And in the midst of this world,I see glimpses of His glory. I know that he's at work and has given me work to do as well. And so with that ache growing, the anticipation overwhelming I cry out in the midst of my waiting, Come, Lord Jesus.