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A Long, Slow Christmas

December 19 2018
December 19 2018

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In our culture, it is an uphill climb to embrace a long, slow Christmas season. It is hard to pause and soak in the spirit of Advent, the “waiting” for Christmas. My children gleefully count down the days until Christmas, while I attempt to live in the tension between their excitement and anticipation and my own worries and to-do lists. As I encourage Redeemer’s parents today, I am really preaching to myself!

It is easy to load ourselves down with self-imposed strain and guilt about things we think are important in order for Christmas to happen, not to mention the pressure to make it “magical.” When we say we want to prepare Him room, we often behave as if this were first a matter of preparing our homes and running errands, overlooking the state of our hearts all cluttered with our concerns and burdens, and leave no room for the King of kings to enter our messiness. How do we point our children to this Rescuer in a season we ourselves struggle to navigate with quiet hearts?   

Practically, we can slow time down in small ways with Advent readings, the singing of Christmas hymns, the lighting of candles, and telling of the Hope that is to come. It also helps to remember that Christmas Day is not the end of this season! The church calendar provides us an opportunity to hold the miracle of Christ’s birth in our hearts well past December 25.

Just as Advent culminates in Christmas, Christmas culminates in Epiphany. The main theme of Epiphany is Jesus as the light of the world, revealed to all nations, including the Gentiles. Jesus is revealed to us and we celebrate his coming for all people, for all nations on this special day.  If you haven’t contemplated including this date and season in your traditions, consider how you might highlight it in your own family this year, when the parties and school events and preparations of this busy week before Christmas have passed.

A long, slow Christmas won’t come naturally. During this season of waiting, we must make a conscious effort to reflect, rethink our priorities, and receive forgiveness fresh for our weary souls. To spend the days leading up to Christmas like this is profoundly countercultural, but it will serve us and our children well.

If you’re feeling harried and fretful this time of year, remember that there is still time, and that the waiting and celebration is joyful not because of our own efforts, but because of the One who has come. God will use even the seemingly minor things we do now to make a significant impact long term in our children’s hearts as we celebrate His gift to us.


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