Thousands of people went streaming by me as I performed Christmas music last Sunday night at Christmas Preview. They were dressed in hats and scarves, ready to welcome the sights and sounds of Christmas once again. Stores began putting their Christmas decorations out on November 1st, trying to entice us to dream about what we might put on our wish list.
Are you ready? We celebrate “Advent,” the first coming of Jesus 2000 years ago at this time of year. It’s a time of year that can suck the spiritual life out of you if you aren’t careful to keep your focus straight.
It’s easy to say the words, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” all the while running off to another sale or yelling at your kids because they are not helping you get the decorations on the house. If you are honest, would you say that Advent is the most distracted part of your year? Is it a time where your spiritual life takes a vacation like the kids take a break from school? Does your indulgence and lack of discipline in your diet and with your time spill over into skipping time with God at home or on Sundays?
I want to grow in my walk with Jesus in the next 30 days! I don’t want to miss opportunities to find Jesus in every circumstance and deepen my love and affection for Him as I celebrate His first coming and wait for His second appearing someday.
How can we do that better this year? Here’s a few ideas I have for you to consider as you approach eating turkey on Thanksgiving and watch the Christmas season take off like a freight train on “Black Friday.”
1. Participate in a giving project. I know we have one at the church for people in our city – take part in giving to others. It helps to get your eyes off yourself.
2. Come to Church, early. Sales happen on other days besides Sundays. Make an effort to show up and worship. Starting this week, we have special times of acoustic piano music from 10- 10:30am when the worship service starts each Sunday. I am going to play this week, Michael Long the following week and the third week of advent will feature Catherine Vietti on piano before church. Come and spend quiet moments with God then.
3. Celebrate Advent with your family. Our NeighborKids ministry will have “advent booklets” available this week at the zone (where big kids have Sunday School). They will help your family celebrate advent and meditate together on the meaning behind each week.
4. Study the traditional weekly focus of advent. Look up the meaning behind the advent season on the internet, and read what others have said about each week’s focus.
5. Study the virtues we will teach about the next four weeks – Hope, Love, Joy, Peace. Zack Curry will be with us this week speaking on Hope, Gaylord Enns the next week about Love, my wife, Linda will preach on Joy, and I will finish the series with a message on peace.
6. Keep your routine with God. If you go on walks with God or sit at the kitchen table and have your Bible time and prayer each morning – keep it up! You will be tempted to alter your routine, but that usually means skipping the time with God you get filled up by.
It is my prayer that this season of advent will be precious and meaningful spiritually for us as a church family. On Sunday December 28th, we will have testimonies about what God has done in the past year, we are looking forward to hearing yours that day as we prepare for 2015. May God bless you as you turn your eyes toward Jesus, our savior!