We’re fully involved in the Christmas season now, there are lights everywhere, trees going up, songs being sung, plays being done, presents being hid and cheer being shared. I love this season because it’s a time for us all to come together and celebrate life, and for people of faith the reason for hope. In the church this period of time before Christmas is known as Advent. It’s when we’re supposed to prepare our hearts and lives for the day of Christmas.
So much of our lives are about preparing. We go through school to prepare for our careers, we read books and take courses about kids to prepare for our kids, and we learn about health issues when we or loved ones have them to prepare for treatment options and negative possibilities. We’re always looking ahead and thinking about what’s coming up, which is really a good thing. Yes, we do spend time looking back and considering what we’ve done in the past (especially if we’re feeling guilty or working on improvements), and some of us do get stuck there. And sometimes it seems like we spend so much time getting ready for stuff or thinking about the past that when we do actually get to a milestone it can feel anticlimactic, especially if we’ve got lots stuff yet to come that we’re still preparing for.
But the Christmas season is a reminder that while the journey never ends and there’s always a next step to prepare for, it’s super important to take time to stop and celebrate. The angels stopped what they were doing to sing, the shepherds went to visit even though it was late and they were tired, the wise men stopped whatever they usually did and took a huge journey, and Mary and Joseph put their plans on hold to have Jesus. I have no doubts though that if you asked any of them if they were glad that they took the time to stop in their regular lives and activities to make time to celebrate this important birth they would all tell you that it was one of the best moments of their life.
This upcoming Christmas may not be your best. It may be one of your less-than-happy ones. And there certainly were moments in that first Christmas that were less than awesome. But I’m confident that just like they found reason to celebrate some 2000 years ago, you’ll be able to find time and reason to do so as well. Don’t let the season and the year end without taking time to stop and celebrate what you’ve accomplished and the difference that Jesus has made in your life and the ways that He’s preparing you for what’s next. What will you celebrate this Christmas?