What a gift we have to read this week before Christmas, this last week of Advent. Jessica Russell from SMC is writing for us today sharing how this Christmas season is like no other to her this year. Thank you, Jessica for taking the time in this busy month to write and give us this gift of your Christmas story.
ADVENT… emergence, dawn, the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.
A few weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect from SMC’s Women’s Advent Bible Study. To be perfectly honest, I’d never really given Advent much thought outside of dully anticipating the lighting of the Advent candles for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Just another tradition in the little church I grew up in. Just another something else to check off the list.
But, giving it proper time for reflection and study, I’ve discovered that Advent is so much more than that—so much more than another to-do item scratched through, and certainly so much more than just another present not-so-gingerly unwrapped in the haste and excitement of Christmas morning.
Advent is the time in our faith life when we celebrate the arrival of God come to Earth, God in flesh, God gifting himself to us forever and ever. Oh what a gift!
The most moving thing about this gift for me is that I’ve come to know, without doubt, He’s so real…He is, He was, He will always be. This man, our Jesus, and that place called Bethlehem, and the gift of them and that night, spoken down through ages and ages before and after, and continuing to speak into us today. So far away in time and space, yet so close you can feel it. A ribbon through time that connects us all.
This shared heritage…one of peace, one of guidance from our loving Shepherd, one of love. The transcendence of His message and His greatness, the gift of Himself, all that came before Him and all that continued after His earthly life – that connectedness is what takes me over and calms my spirit when I take time to stop and think on it. I know He is here, near to me. I know I can find Him in the most subtle places and subtle ways. Turning my eyes and heart to Him means I can detect His presence just under the surface, when so many other things or people distract me away from Him or drowns Him out.
The eagerness we pick up on when the angels arrive to announce His birth to the shepherds, the eagerness of the Wise Men to get there and honor Him, is the same eagerness I feel for Him today. Now more than ever, should we be eager for Him, with an unquenchable thirst. If we are truly His light in this ever darkening world, what better time than this time of year to outwardly yearn for Him and yearn to be more like Him as we remember His coming, the start of His great rescue plan?
Like moths to the flame of His light, as His followers may we ever draw nearer to Him. Wherever we are in our faith walk, He lets us choose. He’s not a dictator. He gives us the choice because He loves us. If we are awakened in Him, then we will choose Him. We will be His light to our world for folks much farther away from His flame. If we can do that, then we will help them draw nearer and know our Heavenly Father. I can feel that warmth around me, when I’m attentive to it. My hope is that others can pick up on that warmth radiating from me to them, and that they will be eager to seek it out as well, flittering ever closer to light ahead.
Immanuel, God with us, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace:
I pray that we all will feel the connection to You and to each other that this Advent season reminds us of. I pray that these connections will give us strength to pursue you, despite the many distractions swirling around us, so that like moths on a darkened night, we can clearly see your flame shining forth and we will pursue it with an eagerness and zest that is contagious to those around us or following behind us.
Thank you for the gift of Jesus. Merry Christmas! Amen.