I can hardly believe that another Christmas season has already come. Time seems to move more swiftly the older I get, and each year Christmas seems to get bigger and better—a little more extravagant, a little more stressful. But my heart craves the Simple things. As I have tried to slow my heart in preparation for this year’s Advent season, I have intentionally asked God to help make the age-old story of Christ’s coming fresh for me. To strip away the tinsel and glitter and strip it down to the heart of the matter. And so He has.
I used to throw the word ‘advent’ around like I throw a bow off of a wrapped package. Mindlessly. But I have come to find that its meaning holds more weight than I have credited it. Advent means ‘an arrival; an approach’.
‘Jesus was born into the world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside…Our Lord’s birth was an advent.’ (Oswald Chambers)
Though this simple truth is often concealed under layers of evergreen trimmings and glass ornaments, family gatherings and long-honored traditions (all good things), the Advent season always has been and always will be fundamentally centered on the celebration of our Saviour’s arrival from the outside in—His timely Advent! God, in a humble human frame, split the Bethlehem skies open and entered into our sin mess to save us from ourselves. As only He could. And that truth is our great source of joy; He came for us.
But living in the now chapter of the God story—with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit—I have found that God didn’t just come for me on that Christmas morning 2000 years ago. But He’s coming for me all the time. The Spirit of God has been pursuing me relentlessly and lovingly since birth, constantly splitting open the hard places of my heart to align me more closely with the Father (and Lord knows that’s a full-time job). So, yes, we celebrate the Christmas Advent, but what does it look like to experience an everyday Advent of the presence of God? How do I live with a daily anticipation and sensitivity to Him? How do I prepare Him room in my heart?
In the wake of my Christmas prayer this year, God has peeled back a layer of His heart for Christmas and given me a glimpse into what Advent is truly all about. So consider this your formal invitation to a three-part journey with me over the next few days as I wrestle through some of these questions—and as we anticipate and prepare our hearts for Christmas.