I love the Advent season. The weeks leading up to Christmas morning are some of the holiest of the entire year. I have found there are several things that help me prepare to experience the birth of Christ to the fullest.
First, decorating the house helps to set the scene. Marsha and I put up a Nativity scene on the fireplace mantle. The Nativity helps us to focus on the true meaning of the holiday. We also enjoy setting up the Christmas tree – it doesn’t quite feel like the holiday season has started until we get the tree up. While the Nativity reminds us of the spiritual importance of the season, the tree reconnects us with all the memories with friends and family.
Second, every morning of the season, Marsha and I read the Advent devotional for that day. Not only does it connect us with God, it also connects us with our family of faith. It is meaningful for us to know that we are all spending time each day focusing on the birth of Christ.
And third, I am intentional about worship. The importance of worship was really brought home to me several years ago. It was Christmas Eve 2009 when Oklahoma City was hit with over 14 inches of snow. Throughout the day I kept hearing reports of the worsening weather and of all the cancellations of Christmas Eve services around the city. I was adamant we would continue, but as each hour passed, it became obvious that it just wasn’t going to be possible. We cancelled all of our Christmas Eve Worship Services. The next morning was Christmas and we were able to continue on with our celebration, but it just didn’t feel the same without having attended the Candlelight Service the night before. We decided to have the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on the next Sunday morning. It was then I realized just how important the worship service was in my celebration of the birth of Christ.
Spend time this Advent season getting ready for the birth of Christ. Put out a Nativity scene and reflect on it each day. Be sure to set aside time for prayer and reading the Advent devotional. When you put up the Christmas tree, take a moment and remember the family and friends who are important in your life. Think of the Christmas Eves and mornings you have celebrated with loved ones over the years.
Finally, be sure to worship this Advent. Each service, from the first Sunday of Advent through Christmas Eve, builds to take us to the fullest experience of the Christ Child. Worship allows us the opportunity to share our gratitude with God each week. There is just nothing like seeing the face of Christ in the faces of our family of faith. The candlelight is the visual reminder of each of us carrying the light of Christ. I pray that you will join me in preparing for the birth of Christ during this season of Advent!
Dr. Bob Long, Senior Pastor