Advent: Where is Your Heart?
- December 11, 2018
- Meg Rodriguez
So many thoughts and obligations tug a tour hearts this time of year, competing for our preoccupations and our affections nearly every minute of every day. Gifts, errands, preparing recipes, cooking, decorating our homes, Christmas cards, family, travel, work, gatherings, parties. The list could go on.
But when was the last time that you consciously and effortfully redirected your hearts, preoccupations, and affections toward Christ this advent season?
The term advent is thrown around so frequently this time of year, and yet, I so infrequently pause to appreciate its weight and its meaning. A simple Google search reveals the following definition:
1. The arrival of a notable thing, person, or event
Synonyms: arrival, appearance, emergence, dawn, birth, rise, coming
2. The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays
3. The coming or second coming of Christ
The progression here made me stop and think about the layered meaning of this simple word. Advent, the arrival of a notable thing (God’s plan for salvation), person (Jesus Christ himself),or event (the birth of our Messiah). Advent, the first season of theChristian church year, meant to be a priority in our hearts. Advent, the coming of our Christ. The term is weighty, and it is true, and everything in our lives and salvation hinges on it.
Remembering and honoring the significance of advent is something I struggle with every year. By the time Christmas rolls around, I nearly always find that the state of my heart is thoroughly unprepared to celebrate and delight in the gift of the coming of Christ. Perhaps you can relate to my sentiments. In college, my excuse was final exams that filled the month of December. The last couple of years, it’s been a flurry of work, travel, and moving states that has kept my mind in a near-constant state of pre-Christmas distraction.
This year, I am challenging myself—andI would challenge you to do the same—to find no excuse for pushing off the reflection, prayer, and awe that the advent season deserves, that Christ himself and his incarnation deserves.
Toward this end, my husband and I have been reading a book compiled of advent readings for the days leading up to Christmas. In the first reflection, an excerpt from a sermon by George Whitefield, he asks:
“Did Jesus come into the world to save us from death, and shall we spend no part of our time in conversing about our dear Jesus; shall we pay no regard to the birth of him who came to redeem us from the worst of slavery, from that of sin, and the devil; and shall this Jesus not only be born on our account, but likewise die in our stead, and yet shall we be unmindful of him? Shall we spend our time in those things which are offensive to him? Shall we not rather do all we can to promote his glory and act according to his command?”1
This puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? Jesus our Lord came into this world to redeem us from the worst of slavery, and yet in this season of advent, my mind trails after gift shopping, Christmas party plans, and cookie baking day. Of course, God gives us these good gifts and blessings to enjoy with one another, yet when our hearts long only after these earthly things, we have thoroughly missed the intent of advent.
Will you join me this year in putting these earthly things second? Will you join me in striving to cherish advent, and to pray and long after the celebration of Christ? May our hearts be filled with his joy this Christmas morning—and today, and always.
1. Cited from “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas” edited by Nancy Guthrie, and originally adapted from “The Observation of the Birth of Christ, the Duty of all Christians; or the True Way of Keeping Christmas,” sermon by George Whitefield, in Selected Sermons of George Whitefield.