Ah… Advent. That time of year when we prepare ourselves for the arrival of The King… and the departure of our sanity!
“Advent” comes from the Latin word, Adventus, which means arrival, or coming. This is the season on the Christian calendar where we prepare our hearts for the arrival of our King… Christ. However, well meaning activities often flood busy calendars. And if we’re not careful, we can miss a wonderful opportunity to re-center our lives on Christ.
But, as the angels say, “Fear not!” for I bring you glad tidings and three questions that can help you maintain your sanity… and your schedule during Advent.
1. Does it keep me from The King?
I’m not talking spending 24/7 seated in front of the nativity set. I’m talking creating space and time enough for you and your family to fully appreciate God’s coming into the world in human form.
Maybe you want to block off a certain time in the evening to do family activities… or maybe you have a once a week ritual around lighting an Advent Wreath. (Here’s a great reading plan with family activities throughout Advent). Perhaps it’s an Advent devotional or a regular visit to sick or elderly… working in a food pantry or kitchen, etc.
The key here is to block off the time… early!
2. Does it honor The King?
If the real intent of this season is to make room for the King, then perhaps we can start by trimming those things that don’t really honor the King.
Case in point: you receive 10 invitations to events. 4 are church related (choir party, Sunday school party, small group party, kids’ pageant). 6 are “other related” (work, community organizations, etc).
Clearly, we should pick the four church events… right?
What if one of those “other” events is an opportunity to provide encouragement and show the love of Christ to someone who is struggling? And it conflicts with the Sunday School party that you’ve had for the last 5 years… with the same folks… who all know Christ and are pretty comfortable? Which one honors the King?
Or better yet, why not bring your Sunday School class into the opportunity to show Christ’s love and kill two love-birds with one stone? Which leads to the third question…
3. Can I creatively combine?
With a little imagination, we could find opportunities to spend time with the King and our family in ways that honor Him.
For example, I’m sure we’re all too busy to do all these things:
– Volunteer with the local food pantry
– Mobilize the community to help with the food pantry due to a food shortage
– Help the kids with math homework
– Spend quality family time
– Teach our kids the real meaning of Christmas
– Do a service project
– Have our kids do a service project that’s age appropriate
I love this story that comes out of our congregation at WordServe Church:
A mother of two boys (3rd and 5th grade) heard that food was critically low at the local food pantry. Through connections at church, she arranged for the Sundays in Christmas to include a “food offering” from the congregation.
But how would the canned food brought each Sunday get to the food pantry? And how might the congregation be inspired to continue giving and know they’ve made a difference?
She asked that the cans be loaded in her husband’s truck. The boys went through the donation and got the weight of the cans. The weight in ounces was then transferred into pounds with the help of mom and dad so we could announce to the congregation how much food was given.
The cans are dropped off at the local food pantry after quality family time that raises the awareness of what it means to actually be Jesus for those in need, both in her family and in her congregation. The kids have some improved math skills, but more importantly, some improved heart skills attached to hands and feet that serve others.
Advent is not always about more… I think it’s about Honoring the King, being selective, and then finding ways to put more of Him in what we’re doing, as if He were right there with us.
I wish there was a name for that… something that reminds us that God is with us. Any suggestions?
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.” (Matt 1:23 NLT)
How will you put more of Christ in what you’re doing this Christmas? What other inspiring stories do you have to share?