Saturday, March 4, 2017

Heart of Christmas

 You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees. -Max Lucado
I have discovered Advent this December like never before. Sure I had seen people light the candles and read certain things. I had heard the word tossed around a lot; however, my concept of the purpose was a little foggy. But then I heard Louie Giglio was coming out with material about it. Max Lucado has some books offering insight as well as many other authors and I heard the Christian radio station talking about it. My brain is simply incapable of not knowing. I’m like an information specialist. If something is out there; I learn about it and well, if Louie and Max are with it, so am I. Allow me to be a little nerdy in this one. It will be worth it.
Advent is simply defined as “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” Can you talk about defining all of Christmas in one tiny immeasurable sentence? I think about those words and somehow, by itself, that definition falls flat. Honestly it could be talking about a number of different people or things. We could all form a list of the most notable people in our world or events that have shaped us. In fact, we do. Person of the year, 100 Most…, Nobel Prize, this day will live in infamy—we’ve heard it all our lives.
Advent could be talking about World War I, landing on the moon, or September 11, 2001. It could announce the birth of Roosevelt or Churchill or even Hitler. It could be talking about me and you.
But it isn’t.
So what would make that statement stand for over two thousand years like never before? Who could possibly make the greatest lasting impression on the world and remain untouched no matter how many technological advances or great discoveries were made? Who could never be surpassed?
They called Him: Immanuel—God with us.
A piece of God entered earth and lived among us. He moved. He came. Do you comprehend how huge that really is for us? God came down to earth to demonstrate how to look up. “He refused to be a statue in a cathedral or a priest in an elevated pulpit. He chose instead to be Jesus” (Lucado 13). All other religions worship a stationary god. But there is unique proof that Christianity is more than just something nice to believe in. Jesus came to us.
So let me break down the core off adventing, Holly style. I’m determined to make it a verb year after year. The modern church looks at advent in two ways: as a celebration of what happened in the manger with the coming of baby Jesus and also as an anticipation for the second coming of Christ. Advent is used throughout December to prepare the way for the birth of Jesus. And for me, it has been a way to prepare my heart for what Christmas is really all about.
We get so lost in the rush and bustle of the holiday that far too often December 25 sneaks up on us and we have almost forgotten the whole point. It’s not even necessarily our fault; it’s the society we live in today, but maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we live with a hand holding onto the world that didn’t recognize the birth of the Savior, instead of with eyes focused on the miraculous baby born one night in a stable. The Son of God came and almost no one knew. His birth was announced to those who were watching; those who were listening; only those who were prepared in their hearts for a touch from God. If the Messiah came this December would you be among the shepherds or among the sleepers? Would you recognize the King of Kings?
My heart in this post is for you to discover your own form of advent and prepare yourself for a Christmas like never before—a Christmas rebirth in your own heart. Imagine and feel and see Christmas like never before. Revel in the fact that God’s greatest plan included you.
Plant yourself in the story and experience it like never before.  There is “a small cathedral outside Bethlehem [that] marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus. Behind a high alter in the church  is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps.  You can enter the main edifice and admire the ancient church. You can also enter the quiet cave, where a star embedded in the floor recognizes the birth of the King. There is one stipulation, however. You have to stoop. The door is so low you can’t go in standing up.  The same is true of the Christ. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees” (Lucado vii, emphasis mine).
Find a way to your knees this Christmas. Prepare the way. As Amy Grant sings, “The heart of this Christmas is in you and me.” Where are you Christmas?
-Only Hope
Lucado, Max. In the Manger. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012. Print. 25 Inspirational Selections for Advent.

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