I’m sure there is some theological debate among Christians as to which is the “better” holiday; Christmas, the birth of our long-awaited Savior, or Easter, the most selfless act (death and resurrection) to a self-serving humanity.
But for me, those holidays are too short. The anticipation builds. Stores are stocked months in advance with all the pomp and circumstance of the season (way before I’m ready to commit). Then it’s over. All the eggs have been found, the presents have been unwrapped. Just as quickly as the Holiday morning arrives, it’s over and the days that follow seem somber and misplaced. You see, I’m just not that kind of girl. A lunch date with me is not thirty minutes. You better block off two hours because I want to savor it all. The conversation, the atmosphere, the meal. And just like my lunch date with friends, I want to savor my holidays with Christ.
So, for me, the season to savor is Advent. Twenty-five days in the midst of the most aggressive holiday hustle and bustle to read verse by verse, word by word, the details of those final months before the miraculous and holy birth. Advent is the ultimate savor season.
Now I know I’m ahead of myself. Advent typically begins December 1st and takes us all the way through Christmas day. But let’s be real. My tree is up. I’m already listening to the Holly station on Satellite radio (much to Jason and my brother’s dismay), and I’ve already watched Jim Carry’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, twice! I’m ready for Advent. I’m ready to dive into God’s word and discover all over again the whimsy of Christ’s impoverished and unlikely birth.
Now if you want to follow along, there are hundreds of devotionals and books on Advent on Amazon alone so hit Prime and you’ll be ready to begin in two days. But for the second year in a row, I’m sticking to Jane Johnson’s “25 Days of Advent: The Daily Re-Telling of the Greatest Story of All Time.” Jane is a kindred spirit. She’s a writer and blogger, and fellow woman of waiting. After ten years of marriage, Jane and her husband finally conceived their long-awaited birth, a son born on the one-year anniversary of losing her best friend to cancer. Jane’s story of waiting and redemption combined with the tenderness of Advent is what my soul longs for. As Jane writes, “Because He makes all things new. And bitter waters sweet. Because He redeems heartbreak.”
Advent is about waiting.
Another thing I really love about this perspective of Advent, is that it doesn’t start with the typical Old Testament prophecy. The story doesn’t seem so far off and out of reach. It begins with a doctor, who has spent the vast majority of his life meticulously documenting the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Luke provides the fullest account of Christ’s birth in a (much appreciated) narrative and consecutive fashion.
We don’t start in a manager but instead a temple.
We don’t start with a birth but instead with a prayer.
Zacharias was performing his Sabbath duties, burning incense inside the temple, a room where only priests could enter. And as we all know, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him with the typical Angel disclaimer, “Do not be afraid.” I love that so much because I’m sure the Angel could hear Zacharias’s heart racing. See the color drain from his tan complexion. But what I love more comes next, “for your prayer has been heard” (Luke 1:13).
We know what comes next, Zacharias and his barren wife Elizabeth who are “old” and “advanced in years,” are going to conceive a son named John. And even though the point of this story, our hope and salvation is Jesus, a small character named John opens up this story. He is the one who prepares, befriends, defends, and baptizes Christ our King. With John, one miracle begets a multitude of miracles all because one husband and wife faithfully prayed.
I have confessed it before and I confess it again now, I am so inconsistent in my prayer life. I read, I sing, I speak, I cry out to God, I talk to him while driving north and south on 365. But I have the hardest time asking God to intercede upon my behalf. Asking for others is far easier and comes far more naturally, I have a literally list of what I ask God to do for others. But to ask for myself feels . . . selfish, weak, needy. All things I don’t want to be personally, much less spiritually.
God already knows the desires of my heart, so why do I need to verbalize them and ask?
Because God has called us to ask.
Because God has called us to humble ourselves before His throne.
Because when you are at the end of yourself, that’s when God begins.
Because God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than for what we ask.
Advent means “coming.”
The expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus.
What are you waiting and hoping for?
What do you eagerly anticipate?
What will you leave behind with yourself and lay at His feet?
All seasons call for prayer because we have hope in the One who hears our prayers.
But if you haven’t started, then now, then Advent, is the perfect time to start.
As my professed Year of Whimsy comes to an end, I’ve been praying for my own personal ending.
How will 2017 end? What will be my word, my focus for 2018?
Join me next week, dear friends as we recap my 2017 Year of Whimsy.
With just one month left on the calendar, there is still so much whimsy left to be had!
And Advent is the perfect season to kick it off.
And just in case you were curious about what I'm reading, you can order your print or digital copy of Jane Johnson's "25 Days of Advent" Devotional here. Enjoy!
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation