I love Christmas. I love the twinkle lights, the tree, the decorations, the nativity scene, and of course I love the presents. I love to give them and I love to receive them (just being honest). I love shopping for the right gift, I love decorating every nook and cranny of my house and I love getting together with family and friends. Christmas makes me feel GOOD. In our house we try to focus on the reason for the season... The birth of our Savior. We always talk about why we in this family celebrate and what different things mean to us, but we all get a little distracted by all the other fun stuff of the season.
This year in an effort to put more focus on the reason we celebrate the Hubs suggested we incorporate Advent into our holiday season. I thought that was a great idea so I started searching Pinterest for Advent activities to do with the family. WOW... there are 1000's of great ideas out there, so many in fact, it's hard to choose what to do...One could get a little, dare I say, distracted.
Advent - a coming into place, view, or being; arrival.
On the first day we talked about Isaiah 11:1 and the Jesse Tree. We did a craft to go along with it and help them visualize the verses we were talking about. We talked about how Isaiah was looking forward to the Messiah, who would come from the family tree (line) of Jesse, who was the father of King David. Isaiah 11 has a beautiful description of Jesus and Heaven and the glory of His future Kingdom and I was reminded of Revelation 21 and John talking about the new Heaven and the new Earth, so we turned to those verses and I read them. We talked about looking forward to no more pain, no more tears, no more disease and no more death. We talked about seeing Memaw (my mom) again and how wonderful that day would be. It's not hard to look forward to Heaven.
Later that day I felt this nagging feeling that I had left something out. I felt like I had somehow missed the point of the looking forward. I went back to those verses again and I saw it... The Advent of the Messiah.
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying "BEHOLD (LOOK), the tabernacle of God IS WITH MAN, and HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM, and they shall be His people, and God HIMSELF shall be with them, AND HE SHALL BE THEIR GOD." Rev. 21:3
I missed it. I missed it, just like the whole world missed it the first time Jesus came. In that little stable, laying in the animals feed trough was the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD... Immanuel, which means GOD WITH US and they missed it. No one came to worship him that night. There was no room for Him.
Why did they miss him? They were distracted. They didn't even know what they were looking for. The climax of all they had been waiting for happened that night. The long awaited Messiah had made his debut and NO ONE NOTICED.
They were looking for a warrior, they wanted to be set free, but they didn't really want Immanuel (God with us). They wanted the King of kings and victory over their enemies.
That's what we as their contemporaries want. We look forward to Jesus coming again to wipe away our tears, to vanquish our enemies, to bring us to a perfect place, BUT WE DON'T look forward to GOD WITH US.
We as people haven't changed at all since Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, with a cloudy pillar (God's presence) by day and pillar of fire by night. They wanted rescue, NOT GOD. When it was time for Moses to go up on that mountain with God, they said "yeah you go, we will stay down here."
Romans 3:11 says, "There is none that understand, there is none that seek after God."
The good news is that Jesus came anyway. He came that night... Immanuel (God with us). He came and He lived for us and died for us. People who rejected and despised Him. He rose again and He went to prepare a place for us. He is coming again. Coming to redeem a people who are too distracted to remember their King is coming. He is coming and He will be with us. God with us.
This Christmas season as I gaze upon all the old familiar things and I excitedly anticipate all the beauty and the fun of the season, I will try to keep in the forefront of my mind what exactly I'm looking forward too. The baby in the manger happened long ago in a time and place faraway. The man on the cross, who defied death, and ascended into Heaven is a memory. We look forward in longing for our God who is making all things new for us. We look forward to the God who would make his dwelling place with us. We celebrate the King who is coming. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus, Come!!!