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All is Calm, all is bright

Raise your hand if you feel like you have to do all things during the holiday season all while looking put together? You know what I mean: host the parties, make the Pinterest perfect snacks and treats for your kid’s class, create the perfect holiday memories for your family, keep everyone happy…

I want to invite you to take a step back and think about what your goal for the Christmas season is—and be honest. Do you want to give the best gifts? Make the best food? Host the best party? Sometimes we can get too caught up in the Instagram version of the holidays and we forget why we even are getting together in the first place. As a, dare I say it, millennial, my holiday photoshoots have been shot with everything from polaroids and film to the latest iPhone. I can honestly tell you that as much as I love the sweet pictures that I have from this last decade—I really do not need to amount of them. And just like I don't need 100 pictures of myself, mom, and sister doing the same thing (sorry yall), I do not need the amount of added events or pressure that the holiday season can bring. I have sweet memories of my childhood that are not from pictures or perfection, but from present parents and family members. My all-time favorite memory of Christmas is spending Christmas Eve at my grandparent’s house then going to a true candle light service as a family. You know the church service I’m talking about? When everyone receives a candle as they enter the church, the initial flame is lit by the preacher has he shares the last bit of the birth of Jesus,

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:16-20

As he is reading this passage the congregation begins to light each other’s candles one at a time until everyone in the church is holding a single lit flame. We always ended that service with Silent Night, a puff to blow the flame, and left the church in somber silence—concentrating on the birth of the Savior. Worshiping Him with our heads and hearts as we leave knowing that as we celebrate His birth, in a few months we will grieve his death, but then celebrate in His resurrection.

I almost wish we could start the Advent season with a candle light service as a way of preparing our hearts for the busy days ahead. Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus, which means arrival. Also, in the Latin definition one finds the word ripening—and I love that. To ripen means to bring character and flavor to something. I love thinking about how as we continue to pour into God’s Word and learn more about Him, we are bringing more and more flavor into our lives and into our souls. During the Advent season we should remember just how much we need a Savior. Just as the Jews were looking forward to a Messiah, we should be looking forward to His second coming as we prepare and celebrate His first coming at Christmas.

As you begin to prepare your lists and home for the holidays, I challenge you to first prepare your heart. Make it a priority to anticipate the coming of the King as much as the coming of the things. One way to do this is to spend time in specific scriptures during the 24 days leading up to Christmas. In the Bible Resource section of my website, you will find a 5-week Advent Scripture reading plan. I took the plan over an extra week in hopes that it will get you over the “hump” of New Years and make reading your Bible something you do

Over in the Shop, there is the Advent Bundle available for purchase. It comes with a red "joy to the world" block + 5 scripture cards, journal, and reading plan.

So, I asked you to be honest with yourself and to think about our goal for the holidays… I’m not at all suggesting that you shouldn’t knock that Christmas meal out of the park or create the most perfectly perfect wrapped gifts—but I am suggesting that in order for those things to not consume you, you first consume your heart with Jesus. Putting Him first. Remembering. Anticipating. Celebrating HIS birth and second coming will allow all of us to keep things in perspective. And when we have our Pinterest fail or forget to send the Christmas cards (guilty), it will all be okay. Join me this Advent season by opening your heart to the Word of God in preparation for the coming King. Let this be my virtual invitation to light a candle with you, sing Silent Night, and to make ready our hearts for Jesus.

Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child

Holy Infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing 'Alleluia!

Christ the Savior is born

Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night!

Son of God, love's pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth



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