“…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 ESV
Christmas is less than a month away! That most wonderful, frenzied time of the year full of trees, decorations, carols (my favourite), parties, tons of shopping, gifts and family get-togethers. For some of us, it is a time of immense stress and visions of upcoming family drama, for some it´s a time of anxiety, worrying about where to get the money to “do Christmas”, for others Christmas is a holiday to completely avoid. Generally, it would appear that for most of us, Christmas has less to do with Christ and more to do with the world´s recreation of it. Christmas has become so commercialized, that we have to admit that we´ve lost the plot! So how do we take back Christmas? How do we not get caught up in the trappings of a Christmas without Christ? How do we re-discover and focus on the true meaning of what it is that we as Christians celebrate?
One way to do this is through the practice of Advent — a time of preparation for the arrival of Christ. Advent is not a mandatory celebration commanded by the bible, it is a practice that has developed over the course of church history. And it is a powerful way to make Jesus the center of your Christmas celebrations. Advent, which comes from the Latin word “Adventus” and means “coming” is a time to read, reflect and discuss Jesus´ birth, the reason for His coming and to anticipate His return.
Advent can be a beautiful time of preparation for your entire family. Traditionally, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas up to Christmas Eve, December 24th. There are so many different ways to celebrate Advent, through bible readings, singing hymns, prayer and through the lighting of candles and an Advent wreath (you can read up more on how to create an advent wreath). There are many resources to help guide you through the period of Advent. I´m personally preparing with John Piper´s Good News of Great Joy . What is most important is the time spent meditating and focusing on Him. I encourage you to explore different ways to prepare for His coming by celebrating Advent.
As I start to prepare and reflect on Jesus´ birth and coming, I recall this verse, “…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt 20:28 ESV Jesus came to serve. He came to give his life. This scripture should give us hope and make our hearts glad! Joy to the world, the Lord is come! That God became incarnate to serve and to give his life is so mind-boggling, that it´s difficult to wrap my mind around it. This is the reason He came and He fulfilled His mandate perfectly.
And then charged me and you to do the same — to serve and give! Advent is also a time of self-introspection, of asking God to search my heart and reveal to me my secret faults. I am asking myself some hard questions. Do I see my life´s purpose as service to God and others? Giving of myself, my time, my wealth in the service of God for humanity? Am I dying daily to my self? Or do my personal interests reign supreme? Am I so preoccupied by what I seek to get from God, that I neglect that which is most needful? Ouch right?
We are called to serve, not to be served. I pray that the truth of this word, would be made real to us daily. “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.” Romans 14:7-8 ESV
Prayer: Lord, as we prepare for the celebration of your first coming, open our hearts and minds to the glory and wonder of what your coming truly means. Show us how to live for you. In Jesus´ Name.