At my childhood church, the Christmas Eve service always started (and probably still starts) the same way. The worship pastor comes to the front of the stage wearing a festive sweater and triumphantly proclaims, “IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAS!!!”
Ninety percent of those in attendance know this joyous rallying cry is forthcoming.
And yet, as the pastor descends onto the stage, the collective chest of the congregation tightens in anticipation. With the last drawn out syllable of his proclamation, the crowd goes wild.
The children, already in their pajamas, explode with cheers they must have been restraining since December 26 the year before. The adults, in their festive sweaters, raise a ruckus only permittable by the combination of the date and the company of humans under the age of twelve.
We love Christmas. Not just the people at the church I grew up in. We all love Christmas.
And there is a lot to love. What other holiday comes with its very own soundtrack? When else is it okay for a man to put on a red suit and ask children to sit on his lap? And who doesn’t love to line their driveway with plastic candy canes? If I had a driveway I’d prove my love for Christmas with plastic candy cane adornments.
The addition of a child to our family brought the crackling fire of holiday fun that burns in my chest to something like a senior year rival football game bonfire in small town Texas sans the drunken teenagers.
I am committed to the Christmas hoopla. The music, the gifts, the lights, the sweets, the parties. I love it all.
So, with all the excitement going on then why do Advent at all? Doesn’t Christmas bring with it enough to do and enough to enjoy without adding a plan to spend time thinking about Jesus? Isn’t all the birth of Jesus info we need found in the Amy Grant Christmas CD as we drive to and fro?
Well, no, actually.
We enjoy the hoopla multiple times over when our excitement flourishes out of a celebration that Christ has come and is coming again. The understanding of the joy and hope of Christmas and all its trappings is magnified in the understanding of the story of the birth of Jesus.
That’s why we wanted to give you two Advent options this season. One is a daily advent meditation. They are short on purpose—the author inteds for you to linger with what is there instead of rushing to complete it.
It’s different in another way as well—this daily Advent mediation includes different forms of art alongside a scripture reference. We want to engage both sides of your brain and your heart too.
We know lots of you have little people. We want to help families engage their curiosity around the true Christmas story. So, our second option is a family advent guide that’s designed to utilize the two things every parent knows (all too well) that their children need—simplicity and repetition. This one is a printable guide available in our shop for just four dollars.
Our Advent issue intends to foster an understanding of the story and reality that fuels our joy and our hope.
Our podcast this issue starts you at the beginning. Drew takes you through the entire story of the Old Testament in twenty-five minutes, and you will be looking for the promised savior when the time is up. Luckily, you can read about some places in the Old Testament you can find the savior before he shows up in a manger in Bethlehem.
You’ll also find articles that kindle your Chritmas spirit yule log. We’ll help you get prepared for the hundreds of conversations waiting within your festitives with our Conduits of Conversation, and you’ll find the motivation to have them in “People Are Good.”
I hope that your joy multiplies this Christmas as you encounter more and more of Jesus. It’s exhilarating to give when you know the heart of the true and better giver. It’s fun to receive gifts when you know the joy of receiving the best gift ever given. It’s refreshing to join in the jubilee of a Christmas party when you know about the celebration in the heavens upon the birth of Christ.
But, mostly, I hope you’ll want more of Jesus in the future becuase of the story of his past. We are all awaiting another day that our savior will appear.
So, let’s sing along with “The Songs of the Exiles” because “IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAAAAS!!!” and a savior has come and is coming again.
Cover image by Martin Sattler.