December is here and with it begins the season of Advent.
I’ve written about my love for Advent on this space numerous times. Advent marks the build-up to Christmas, the birth of Immanuel, “God with us.” And honestly, I think the build-up to Christmas is my favorite part about the entire holiday season. I love the countdown calendar and devotions, the movies, the shopping and wrapping, the songs, and the quality time spent gathering with loved ones over the very best conversation, food, and drink.
Advent isn’t just about the build-up though, it’s also about welcoming the wait – the wait that happens between where we stand now and the breakthrough to freedom and light our souls crave at their core – the wait for our blessed Savior and Redeemer who, born in a manger to the most humble of God’s servants, gave us everything we could ever need for this life and eternity. Beautiful, isn’t it?
While I wait for the blessed hope and joy that is Christmas, I am setting aside intentional time each day to reflect on the true meaning and purpose of the season. For the second year in a row, I’m using the Naptime Diaries Advent Devotional (pictured above) to draw close to God and hear from Him as I begin each day. This year’s devotional focuses on five themes: retreat, expect, accept, embrace, and celebrate. I feel like those words perfectly capture the entire scope of this season. I want to retreat with Him, expect Him to show up, accept His love and grace and truth in my heart, embrace His power and presence in my life, and celebrate what He did as he came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died a sinner’s death to save me and unite me to Him forever.
I don’t know what your days leading up to Christmas will be like, but I invite you in this special time of Advent to enter into the mystery of faith and draw close to glory in these days. I promise you it’s unlike anything else you’ll ever experience. The joy and peace that comes from welcoming the wait surpasses all understanding and leaves us changed, which is exactly what God came here to do, and in wonder and awe of who He is and what He does in our lives.
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Advent is about waiting, anticipating, yearning.
Advent is the question, the pleading,
and Christmas is the answer to that question,
the response to the howl.
– Shauna Niequist –