Christmas – Act 2, Scene 1 (The first act is definitely over)

20141201-165434-60874514.jpgAdvent…and so it begins. The countdown that marches us closer and closer to Christmas. I think of calendars with tiny little doors that open to reveal a piece of chocolate (eaten before breakfast, of course) for every day between now and Christmas. My kids used to get excited if they happened to miss a day for some reason and got to have two pieces of chocolate. We don’t even have advent calendars this year. I can remember having my own advent calendar years ago and the excitement and anticipation that opening every little door brought. One day closer…

I pulled out all of the Christmas totes lasts week, filled with pretty baubles and sparkly things and I put about half of them up. Everything goes in the same place every year, it doesn’t take much thought, but I just didn’t have it in me to do the rest. Maybe it’s because our high school football season is still going on (state championships next Saturday – congratulations to a well-deserving, hard working team) and this is a wonderful thing but it means practice, practice, practice. Maybe it’s because we have been working so hard on finishing the basement renovation project and it’s taken so much of our time and energy. Maybe it’s because my daughter handed me a note addressed to Santa and said “this is for you” and I now know the answer to the unasked “does she still believe question” and a little bit of the magic is gone. Maybe it’s because our old Christmas traditions are forever lost to the thief of death. Maybe lots of things, but I am not in my usual Christmas Wonderland Stupor of decorations, and baking, and fa-la-la-ing. So today, on this first day of advent, I am attempting to jump start the Christmas Spirit train and I know it needs to start within.

My world is changing
I’m rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too?
*Where Are You Christmas, Faith Hill

This is my question, straight from The Grinch, does that mean Christmas changes too? I am not aiming for the mellow dramatic here. Just honesty. Seasons change, chapters end. It doesn’t mean it’s bad, just different, and that takes me a little bit to embrace. And that brings me back around to advent…

Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. A time of preparation for the coming celebration. John Piper says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” In other words, “In every heart prepare him room…by cleaning the house.” So today, I will clean the house, and put up the rest of the decorations, and in my heart I will try to do the same and I will remember and reflect.

Will you join me? At least in part, take some time to be still today, and in the coming days, to prepare your heart, or as John Piper said, clean the house. Marvel with me in wonder at the miracle of the season. Allow yourself time to take a deep breath and soak in the meaning of the season. This is where the change of heart will happen.

Jesus said, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” (John 12:46) He came to light up our world, to rescue us, to pull us out of the darkness forevermore. The very first gift of Christmas, given to you, to me, was love and salvation, peace and joy, given in the tiny form of a baby, wrapped, not in shiny paper and sparkly bow, but in rags.

For tonight, my plan is to sit in the glow of the Christmas tree and kick off the advent journey with a piece of chocolate and a quiet heart, stripping out “the stuff” and remembering the simplicity of why we celebrate.

20141201-172813-62893972.jpgFor a child is born to us, a son is given to us….And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NLT)

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