As we begin the Christian Year, we also celebrate the Holy Season known as Advent. It is a time when we prepare ourselves for the coming of our Messiah. As you know, Advent means “Coming.” We celebrate these days of Advent in expectation and preparation for Christ’s arrival.
Through the centuries, Christians have observed a time of waiting and expectation before celebrating the birth of the Savior at Christmas. The Advent season is a time for reflection and preparation, but its mood is joyful. Advent has been enriched by Christian tradition to reflect its distinctive Christian meaning. It proclaims the revelation of God’s love as expressed in Christ’s birth in a humble stable, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His victorious resurrection! It points to the hope of Christ’s coming again as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Advent makes innkeepers out of all of us, asking each of us to make room for the arrival of Christ The King.
Mike Slaughter wrote a book entitled Christmas Is Not Your Birthday. Here is a quote from the book that Slaughter writes, “Biblically, the focus of Jesus’ birth would be God’s redemptive work of salvation in the world. The mission of Jesus, in Isaiah 61, is to preach the good news to the poor and set the oppressed people free from all the forces of oppression, including the force of materialism. What we have done has taken Christmas and abandoned the whole reason of Jesus’ birth, which was to give his life for the life of the world and for the least and the lost. We have professed an alliance to Jesus but have turned it upon ourselves and made Christmas a hedonistic feast of gluttony instead of a sacrificial giving of ourselves with Christ for the life of the world.”
At least for me, Slaughter’s comments hit a nerve because there is a part of me that knows he is right and my innocence around this wonderful season can be compromised at times. As a consumer, my family and I often spend more than we should and use gifts as a form of compensation of love during this season so that folks closest to us know we care about them, rather than simply making it simple. I think a better way to respond like Christ would be for us to simply treat people better all year around. Like you, I realize that the season of Advent is not about how much we buy, but how much we give emotionally and spiritually that is the most important. Please, I don’t want to sound like a Scrooge, but my hope would be for all of us, especially my children, to reclaim Christmas as a time of sacrificial giving.
It is my deepest hope that you and your family have the best ADVENT SEASON ever.
It is my privilege to be your District Superintendent.