The count down to Christmas has begun. I have struggled with Christmas for several years now. For some unexplained reason I feel like a greedy glutton through out the holidays. I cannot shake this unexplained feeling of sadness combined with restlessness that seems to just sit upon me.
I am a terrible shopper, fifteen minutes in and I’m ready for a nap. I don’t even consider Black Friday shopping, I find myself more of a Cyber Monday kind of gal. How is it that as I shop for others, I keep finding things for myself, my selfish self.
A few years ago I made up my mind that I would refocus my mind and my heart. I would refuse to allow these feelings overtake me, I had to find my way back to joy. My husband made a beautiful Advent Log and week by week as I light each candle it stills my restless heart. It would become the tool that the Lord would use to bring me back to the miracle that is Christmas.
The first week I light the Candle of Hope and I think of Israel waiting, hoping praying longing for a Savior for four-hundred years. Hope came as Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Our Savior was immaculately conceived. Mary would have no idea and the greatness of this Yes, this life changing, life threatening and sacrificial Yes.
The second week I light the Candle of Preparation and I think of our of gracious God who prepared the way for His Son.
I think of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, who was also expecting a great miracle as John the Baptist grew within in her, even at her impossible age. For everything is possible with God. I see how the Lord gave Mary a friend who would believe with her, pray with her and encourage her.
I read how the Lord prepared the heart of Joseph to honor Mary as his wife. I watch as the Lord goes before them leading and guiding their every step.
As Jesus burst forth in the world, the whole Earth rejoices. The sky is filled with angels who bring a great message of joy to the shepherds tending their flocks in the night.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2 10-14
I cannot imagine a greater joy. I picture every living thing rejoicing in their own unique way. I can feel joy stir within me.
As I light the Candle of Love Imagine someone I love and I let that feeling simmer. Give that a try, for you maybe it is a spouse, a parent, brother, sister, a child or a dear friend. Hold on to that feeling for a moment and then multiply it and keep multiplying it until you can’t anymore. That is the Love of God. The sacrificial love of God for you, for me, for all.
He would love us so much that He would watch this babe grow into a boy. He would see a young Jesus who didn’t want to leave His Father’s House, the Temple. He would listen when Jesus would go off alone just to talk to Him. As His son became a man, He would watch as Jesus moved by compassion, would heal the lame, the blind, the sick and raise the dead.
He would see His Son beaten, spit upon and humiliated by mere men. He watched as a crown of thorns would be presses deep into His skull. He would see His Son carry His own cross up the hill where He would be crucified. He, a holy God would have to turn away as the sin of the world clung to His Son. My sin, your sin. He would endure all of this because He loves us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
I light the Christ Candle, the candle that all of the other candles point to and I think of those three days that Jesus spent separated from His beloved Father. The three days where He defeated sin, death and the grave to give the greatest gift that will be over be given.
I encourage you my friends, if you, like me find Christmas to be an overwhelming struggle. Pause and take time to light the candles and let your heart be stilled by the perfect peace of Christ.