8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12
I love Christmas! I enjoy putting up the Christmas lights, decorating the tree, frosting Christmas cookies, being home with family. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I wasted no time in making my house feel like Christmas! Christmas is a celebration of Jesus' birth. He became flesh and entered our world. What an amazing gift, that is truly worth celebrating! And yet so often, during this season, I get distracted. Distracted by the noise, the busyness, the Christmas parties, the shopping, the financial implications. I get distracted. I feel stressed. And I can lose sight of the joy of this season!
Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas as well as the return of Jesus at the second coming. I remember growing up in a church where we would light the advent candles, and at my house we'd have a little calendar where we would add an animal to the pouch for that day - counting down til Christmas. There was an excitement in the waiting.
But if I'm honest, I don't like waiting. We live in a culture of instant gratification, where anything we want is at our finger tips. We don't often have to wait. But I think we can learn a lot about ourselves in the waiting, and about God. This season, I'm going to intentionally try to slow down. To not get lost in the chaos of the Christmas season, but to sit in the waiting. What are you waiting for? Do you trust God in the waiting? Do you trust that his timing is perfect? It is my prayer this Christmas season, that whatever you are waiting for, you'd experience the joy of Jesus in the midst of that.
With our HS students, we are in the middle of a series called "Finding JOY when feeling S.A.D. (stressed, anxious, depressed)". Life as a teenager is stressful all the time, but these feelings are often amplified during the holiday seasons. How are we helping them find and pursue joy in the midst of that? I encourage you to lean into these tough conversations with your teens.
Our JH students just started a new series called "Christmas Through Their Eyes." We'll look through the lenses of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and wise men. The Christmas story often becomes familiar, but the hope is that we will experience a joy as we get a fresh perspective.
Jesus is the light in the darkness, love in the hate, peace in the chaos, joy in the sorrow, hope in the despair. Will you receive him this Christmas? He is the greatest gift God has ever given us. Praying for you and your family this Christmas season, that you'd experience true joy!