The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
There is certainly no shortage of Christmas “Scrooges” these days. Unfortunately, Scrooge is just as alive and well in the 21st century as he was in Dicken’s day. A brief visit to the Internet will reveal an abundance of Scrooge attitudes among bloggers and people who feel the need to express their “enlightened” opinions.
Even we Christians sometime express a ‘humbug’ attitude towards this holiday. We may react to the anxieties created by a commercialized atmosphere that overshadows the true meaning of our celebration. We might even be tempted to ‘throw out the baby with the bath water” and dismiss the Christmas holiday entirely. But to do that is to miss an opportunity to proclaim and savor the glorious good news of the birth of our Savior who dwelt among us.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent simply means “coming”. It is an historically rich time of preparation, contemplation and celebration of the coming of Christ in human flesh to reveal the Father and to sacrifice Himself for our sins. We celebrate Advent to remind one another of the prophecies that were made concerning His coming for centuries.
The practice of Advent has been largely lost, replaced by the commercialization of this season. This is a good time to restore this ancient practice, not as another “tradition of men”, but as a means of regaining a sense of the wonder and joy of this time of Good News. It is also prime teaching time with your grandchildren. You can talk to them about it when they are in your home, when you talk to them on the phone or Skype, or through notes in the mail.
There are many variations on how Advent is expressed. They are all valuable if they point to the coming Messiah and His work of Redemption. I have chosen a version that is not commonly used. I’ve chosen it because I think it gives a big picture view of why Christ came.
An effective visual tool, especially with younger children, is the Advent wreath with candles representing each week of the Advent season. You can buy one or make your own. It is helpful as a visible expression of the truths you are proclaiming as you prepare your hearts for the celebration of Christ’s coming. So, let’s start with week number one.
Week #1: Vigilant Waiting
This week calls us to focus on the experience of waiting. Israel waited for centuries for the Messiah to come, and when He did, most of them missed it because they forgot what the promises foretold. Adam and Eve were the first to hear the Promise (Genesis 3:15) that generations after them would have to wait to come to pass.
Light the first Advent candle and read Isaiah 40:1-5. This prophecy of the coming Messiah is to be a comfort to God’s people as they wait for the one who will be that voice preparing the way for the Lord’s coming.
Waiting is hard. Here are some questions you might want to discuss with your grandchildren about the challenge of waiting:
- What does it mean to wait? Why is waiting hard?
- Why was the waiting for Christ’s coming so necessary? Why was it so important?
- While we no longer must wait for Christ (Messiah) to come for the purpose of delivering us from our sin and God’s judgment, what do we now wait for as followers of Christ? (Read I Thessalonians 4:16-18)
In a world where we are accustomed to having everything now, there will always be Christmas scrooges among us. This is a good time to experience the blessing of waiting in anticipation of receiving something truly amazing—a Savior.
So, to all the modern artificial trappings and flurry of activity that distract us from giving glory and honor to the King of Kings and remembering what Christmas really means, I say “Bah, humbug!”
GRANDPAUSE: While the temptation to scurry from one activity to the next is ever before us, perhaps what we need most is the inactivity of pausing [waiting] and pondering. –Dan Steiner, Denver Seminary Mentoring Director