At my childhood church, the Christmas Eve service always started (and probably still starts) the same way. The Worship Pastor comes to the front of the stage wearing a festive sweater and triumphantly proclaims, “IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAS!!!”
Ninety percent of those in attendance know this joyous rallying cry is forth-coming.
And yet, as the pastor descends onto the stage, the collective chest of the congregation tightens in anticipation. With the last drawn out syllable of his proclamation, the crowd goes wild.
The children, already in their pajamas, explode with cheers they must have been restraining since December 26th the year before. The adults, in their festive sweaters, raise a ruckus only permittable by the combination of the date and the company of humans under the age of 12.
We love Christmas. Not just the people at the church I grew up in. We all love Christmas.
And there is a lot to love. What other holiday comes with its very own soundtrack? When else is it ok for a man to put on a red suit and ask children to sit on his lap? And who doesn’t love to line their driveway with plastic candy canes? If I had a driveway I’d prove my love for Christmas with plastic candy cane adornments.
And the addition of a child to our family brought the crackling fire of holiday fun that burns in my chest to something like a senior-year rival football game bonfire in small town Texas sans the drunken teenagers.
I am committed to the Christmas hoopla. The music, the gifts, the lights, the sweets, the parties. I love it all.
That means you won’t find me bashing gift giving or even the frantic hustle and bustle. It’s all part of the thirty days that lead up to the grand celebration.
So with all the excitement going on then why do advent at all? Doesn’t Christmas bring with it enough to do and enough to enjoy without adding a plan to spend time thinking about Jesus? Isn’t all the considering of the birth of Jesus we need to do found in the 20-minutes of listening to that Amy Grant Christmas CD as we drive to pick up our kids from school?
No, actually. I think we are cheating ourselves out of the best of any and all Christmas activities when we believe the season itself holds enough Jesus without us forcing the Bible into our everyday.
We enjoy the hoopla multiple times over when our excitement flourishes out of a celebration that Christ has come and is coming again. The understanding of the joy and hope of Christmas and all it’s trappings is magnified in the understanding of the story of the birth of Jesus.
It’s exhilarating to give when you know the heart of the true and better giver. It’s fun to receive gifts when you know the joy of receiving the best gift ever given. It’s refreshing to join in the jubilee of a Christmas party when you know about the celebration in the heavens upon the birth of Christ.
And that’s just what our advent time as a family intends to foster—an understanding of the story that fuels our joy and our hope. We aren’t looking to make room in our busy schedule for Jesus time. We are looking to remind ourselves every day of what makes Christmas so grand.
We want to saturate all of our Christmas activities in the joy of the coming of Christ. We spend time in advent so that the joy of all the buying, the giving, the cooking, the singing, the laughter, the decoration, and the anticipation is magnified as each act glorifies our Savior and the Father who sent him. Here, at the Hency house, that’s one of the reasons why we advent.