Focus on the Coming




ADVENT – Focus on the Coming

In years past, the chaotic, commercialized, celebration of Christmas sucked the life out of me. I love Christmas! But, there’s the Final Sales Event of the Season that happens every weekend. Charity drives, company socials, family dinners, parades, church plays, and band concerts fill the calendar. Apparently sleep isn’t necessary the last six weeks of the year.

Christmas decorations crowding out pumpkins before the first leaf falls bugs me. Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas debates on social media are annoying. One Christmas carol per sixty Santa Baby songs on the radio bothers me. And, the Babe-in-a-manger piece haphazardly stuffed between a Ninja Turtle Cowabunga Christmas plaque and a snow globe with Frosty in beachwear sends me over the edge.

For years, I lit up the entire house with twinkling lights. Bah humbug putting that mess away. Once, I did the reverse and simplified. No one appreciated the oranges, apples, and walnuts in their stocking.

My strategies weren’t working, but with three children, eleven grandchildren, and a great-grandchild, a full retreat wasn’t an option. So, I had a conversation with God after the last yuletide, and through a summer of reflection, I realized the problem. I was misinterpreting the season’s rules of engagement. Until now, my battle cry was:

It’s Christmas. I will survive.

I will decorate my home fashionably. It’s Christmas.

I will prepare a large family meal. It’s Christmas.

I will buy lots of presents. It’s Christmas.

I will insist everyone experience peace and goodwill or else!

It’s Christmas. I will survive.

I had it wrong, and my life was void of all that the Advent season celebrated: hope, peace, joy, and love. God reminded me that the world’s idea of celebration contradicts his, but it’s his battle, not mine. He reiterated that Christmas doesn’t stop people from hurting. It doesn’t take away restlessness or discouragement or loneliness. Hope, peace, joy and love so desperately sought after is found in Christ alone; not in the celebration. He requested I recall my rank. You may have noticed a whole lot of I’s in the above thoughts. He did too. God wants my participation in his kingdom affairs, under his authority.

So, you’ll still find me in the midst of the chaotic, commercialized, celebration of Christmas, but hopefully a new me; with a clearer understanding of God’s seasonal rules of engagement. My duty as a grace warrior for the kingdom is to follow his simple directives: converse and share.

When my hands dig through the sixty percent off pile of pajamas, hope can be shared by buying a set for the children’s shelter and praying for the child who wears them. While waiting in line behind the young couple who is trying to decide if they can afford the milk, diapers, and discounted plastic toy truck, peace can be shared by slipping a ten dollar bill their way and inviting them to the free church community meal. Joy can be shared by reciting a few lines from The Magnificat with a new mother. As the community parade floats pass by, love can be shared by telling the person standing next to me about God’s faithfulness. Here’s my new battle cry.

God sent his Son, Jesus. He is coming again, soon.

God sent a star to light our way. Celebrate and share hope.

God’s heavenly hosts cried out. Celebrate and share peace.

God’s gift is eternal life. Celebrate and share joy.

God’s gift is available to all. Celebrate and share love.

God sent his Son, Jesus. He is coming again, soon.

Whether your Advent season is packed with festivities, or mostly alone time, God’s directives are the same: converse and share. The gifts people want are your time, your smile, your touch, and most importantly, your testimony of the celebration you have because you received God’s gift of eternal life; free from death and decay.

If you haven’t accepted his gift, my prayer is that you’ll have a personal conversation with the Almighty. It’s because of his Son; we celebrate the Advent season.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.”  I Peter 1: 3-4 NLT

Melissa Kirk