Have you noticed how, every year, Christmas seems to edge out Thanksgiving more and more? It’s now par for the course to see Pilgrim decorations living side-by-side with Santas on store shelves.
A U.K. researcher confirmed the trend: He found people start thinking about Christmas in August.
Isn’t that something?
Why would that be?
Perhaps people are yearning for Christmas. They’re yearning for the warmth and joy and happy memories.
Deep down, though, we’re longing for a Savior.
This longing isn’t new, of course. Our culture has just missed the point with its over-commercialization. It’s trying to fill a legitimate need through illegitimate means.
Yet that fundamental desire for Jesus remains, as it always has. We ache for the redemption He brings.
That’s why, since the early Church, Christians have observed Advent. It’s a yearly time of anticipation where we prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate Jesus’ earthly birth. This time is meant to awaken in us a yearning for the newborn Messiah, an expectancy birthed from an awareness of our own sinful condition and need. It reminds us we are to anticipate His second return.
And as our culture strays further from the true meaning of Christmas, it’s no wonder so many families are now choosing to return to the time-honored tradition of observing Advent. It serves to correct our human tendency to cheapen what is sacred about Christmas. It helps us focus our attention back on Jesus, the object of our heart’s desire.
My family and I have greatly benefitted from our annual observances of Advent. I think this practice has helped our sons better grasp the true meaning of the Christmas season.
If you don’t already celebrate Advent at your home, I’d encourage you to consider doing so this year. Your whole family will be blessed.
Along those lines, Focus’ Thriving Family magazine is offering a free resource designed to help moms and dads lead their family during Advent, which will be celebrated starting Sunday, Nov. 30 this year. It’s a “Journey to the Manger” Advent calendar you can download. This resource is designed to help you count down to Christmas and teach your kids about the people God used to introduce His Son to the world. Your family will love the Christ-centered activities included in our calendar, including puzzles, Scriptures, prayers and more.
As we stand on the cusp of this year’s holiday season, I pray the Holy Spirit will awaken a wonder in all of us – including our kids – at the incredible gift of Emmanuel, God with us.