I love the timing of the huge Christmas production our church puts on every year. Walk Through Bethlehem, rather than being tucked in close to December 25, is always scheduled for the first week of December. This year, with the calendar producing the shortest possible run-up to December 25, it also happens that this weekend is the first week of Advent.
Advent – for those of you who tend to fast forward to Christmas, barely leaving room for any kind of a prelude – is the season of preparation, of anticipation, of making ready. The reason Advent works so well for me is that it not only slows down the sudden rush to Christmas Day, it makes the celebration so much better because of the waiting.
Waiting is a good thing. It provides the time (and the focus) necessary for reflection, for planning, for making the most of that for which we are preparing. When we wait properly, we are never disappointed. When we wait purposefully, we are more likely to be in a position to receive. When we wait patiently, we arrive at our eventual destination appropriately equipped for the gifts God has planned for us.
Without Advent, Christmas never quite reaches its full potential. And in today’s world we need the real Christmas, Christmas engaged the way God intended, more than ever before.
- Without Advent, Christmas never quite reaches its full potential.
God did not send Jesus to give us another reason to celebrate excess. No, the baby was born in a manger in Bethlehem to lead us into the way of light and of peace.
“Because of God’s tender mercy,” Zechariah spoke when the angel Gabriel finally gave him his voice back, “the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).
Peace, simply put, is essentially unattainable unless we immerse ourselves into God’s rhythm, matching our heartbeat with the cadence of the Spirit of God. God with us, God for us, God in us, God through us.
So come to church today, celebrate the first Sunday in Advent, learn to take measured steps toward Bethlehem and the child in a manger, share in the Lord’s Supper, and begin your journey to the stable.
Peace – in every way – Derek
(“In My Heart I Carry A Star:stories for Advent, is available at this link)
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.