Advent Week Four | Love | A Celebration
Rest: [Take a few moments of silence. Then slowly pray these words.]
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
Isaiah 9:2-7 | Titus 2: 11-14 | Luke 2:1-14 (15-20) | Psalm 96
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by Eddie Kirkland.]
Merry Christmas! The season of waiting is over. Advent has run its course, and Christmas is finally here.
I’m not sure when you’re reading this post, but I hope it’s sometime between spending time with friends and family, unwrapping presents by a warm fire, or eating a Christmas feast. And for those of us (and there are several) who are currently celebrating Christmas in a hospital room, I am specifically praying for you – that God would fill you with joy and peace today.
My wife laughs at me every year, but I’m a pretty emotional guy, and for some reason I can tend to feel a little down on a day like today. After all the anticipation of Christmas has faded, the leftovers are packed up, and the wrapping paper is thrown away, I often feel a sense of sadness that we have to wait another 364 days for Christmas to come around again. Instead of enjoying the moment, I’m saddened that the clock has to re-start.
But that does a total dis-service to what Christmas is all about. According to the ancient practice of the Christian calendar, Christmas isn’t just a day – it’s twelve days long. Remember that “12 days” song we all love to mess up the words to? That wasn’t a songwriter’s invention; it’s a real thing. And the next twelve days aren’t supposed to be remembered with sorrow or downcast faces. It’s meant to be a twelve-day party. A total, all-out, rejoice that God is with us party.
This is where the “reasonable” voice in my head kicks in. “A twelve-day party? That doesn’t seem very spiritual. It doesn’t even seem responsible.” Yet, that’s the way Christians have celebrated Christmas for centuries, and I’m so glad we are embracing it once again. Life with Jesus isn’t just about somber moments, candlelight, and waiting with tears for what lies beyond the grave. It also means that we should have joy in abundance, that we should laugh and dance and rejoice like we have something worth celebrating.
What has Advent taught us? That things are still not right with the world, that we aren’t satisfied with the “status quo,” and that we’re anxiously waiting for the day when Jesus will return and make all things new. But Christmas reminds us that when we look at Jesus in the manger, we see a beautiful picture of the future. We see that God answers His promises, He delivers on his Word, and one day He will gloriously fulfill His covenant and do away with death itself. Even if it doesn’t feel like it in this moment, all we have to do is look at the manger, and we can know that God is with us. That’s reason to celebrate with reckless abandon.
So enjoy all that you can today. Hug your family and friends. Eat some good food. Rest and be refreshed in the joy of today’s celebration.
The four weeks of Advent waiting are over. Let the twelve-day celebration of Christmas begin!
Respond: [Put your prayer into action throughout the day.]
On my wedding day, someone wisely told me, “Today will be a blur. Stop and make a conscious effort to take mental pictures, they will be the only moments you remember.” Ten years later, he was right; they are the only moments of my wedding that I distinctly remember.
As you enjoy Christmas, find a few moments of rejoicing and celebration that you don’t want to forget, and take a “mental picture.” Don’t get your camera out, just stop and think, “I don’t want to forget this moment.” My hope is that every time you remember those moments throughout the years, you’ll thank God for the hope, peace, joy, and love you’ve found this Christmas.