Christmas is a magical time of year. The music and the lights. The fellowship and the food. The decorations and the parties. Everyone loves Christmas. It brings people together. Family members who haven’t seen each other in years gather round the table. Those who were foes now find themselves as friends.
I love Christmas too. Like many, it is my favorite time of year. The only thing I don’t like? It comes and goes so fast. It feels like you blink, and December has flown by. Wait! Put on the breaks! I want a do over!
Too often we don’t get to enjoy the season because we are so busy rushing around trying to get the cards in the mail, gifts bought and wrapped, pies baked, and decorations up. We want everything to be wonderful. But we miss it all in the whirlwind of perfection.
Sometimes we even forget the whole reason for the season. Jesus. No matter what gifts we get, Jesus is the best gift of all. No matter how Christmas dinner turned out, having Jesus is what matters most. No matter how stressful the season can be, Jesus is still there by our side.
And once the hustle and bustle is over, we can still keep Christmas in our hearts all year long. We might not be able to keep our tree up or the stockings hung, but we can still remember this season and what it represents.
When I was growing up, we went to a Methodist church which celebrated Advent. Advent is the anticipation of the coming of Christ. Many who observe Advent have a big wreath laying on a table with twenty-five candles in it. They light a new candle each day throughout the month of December. And the four Sundays prior to Christmas get a special candle representing Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Or you can also just focus on the four candles and skip the other candles throughout the month. (If I remember right, I believe this is what my church did, which makes sense since the congregation met on Sunday.)
I suppose all of us who celebrate Christmas are inadvertently observing Advent. However, the key is to be intentional about it. When we slow down each day throughout the month to focus on Jesus and His birth, this makes the Christmas season so much more meaningful. Let’s take a close look at what each of those four candles represent.
Hope – The birth of Jesus gives us hope. In this crazy and fallen world we live in, what else do we have, if not hope? Hope that God will forgive our sins. Hope that we will spend eternity in Heaven. Hope that the Lord will walk with us each day while we are on this earth. And hope that Jesus will come again.
Peace – Jesus is the Prince of Peace. But what is so amazing is that He left peace for us as a gift. There is a lot of turmoil in this world. But we can choose to hold onto peace in the midst of it all. It doesn’t mean we won’t have difficulties. But we can rest in Jesus’s peace, knowing that our Father is on the throne, working things out in our favor.
Joy – God wants us to have joy. But the enemy is eager to steal this away from us. He will do whatever it takes to make sure we do not have joy. We have to make an effort to hold onto our joy each day. Don’t allow small things to bring you down. Don’t let tiny annoyances come between you and your family. Many of these battles are spiritual. So we have to hold onto the joy of the Lord and defeat the enemy.
Love – What speaks love greater than God wrapping himself in skin as a tiny, vulnerable baby in order to save His children? How amazing and awesome that He did this for us. The meaning of Emmanuel is “God with us.” I am in awe when I think about that. God with us. This love that He has displayed for us bubbles in my heart whenever I ponder the fact that God loves us THAT much.
I pray that you all have a very blessed Christmas. I hope that you enjoy the fellowship with your family and friends. Take a moment to thank the Lord for this glorious day. But on December 26th and beyond, I pray that we all can keep Christmas in our hearts!
(Photo credit: huhu)