It all started with a question today.
“Why do we have the Advent wreath and put ornaments on the Jesse tree?”
I had just read in Mark this morning. And instead of launching into a lot of words, God graciously led me to ask a question instead.
“Why do you think we do these things?”
My daughter thought for a while, tried to talk her way through it. We have been learning about yearly festivals that the Jewish people were called to observe in Exodus. I asked her why God asked them to do that every year.
She was getting closer, I could tell.
Then I asked, “Why do we celebrate your birthday?”
I could tell this question helped her. We have talked about the day of her birth often- the anticipation that her Dad and I felt all those weeks leading up to it, and how our families joined in that joy and anticipation.
So we finally arrived at an answer.
To celebrate and remember.
To slow down and rest held and treasured as we remember love that came for us on that first Christmas night.
Emmanuel- God with us.
What sets us apart from all other religions, and as far back as Exodus, God was revealing this character trait to His people.
We serve a God who wants to be with us.
He does not expect us to live life apart from him, aimlessly wandering and blindly hoping that we “get it right.”
He wants to walk beside us.
To talk to us as with a friend.
To share intimately and deeply, that we may be known fully and loved without reservation.
This is what we celebrate in the birth of Christ.
His sacrifice that forever made the way of intimacy possible for us.
Our sin was no longer a hindrance for Christ’s blood covers us.
And somehow, though this wondrous mystery of abiding life in Christ- this is all new again.
God makes it new.
And words that I have heard so many times before flood my soul with unspeakable joy.
I treasure these precious words of hope and joy eternal.
My spirit soars and tears spring to my eyes.
He makes all things new.
And in remembrance now- somehow- these truths are more precious to me than ever before.
I cling to them and rest in them. I sing in joyous rapture exclaiming their truth.
I have sung them for years, and yet- this truth penetrates my spirit in a new and deeper way.
And I exult- for I know this is the work of God. Not something that I could do or create or inspire- but a gift through His Holy Spirit.
He restores and revitalizes my spirit.
And as I listen to my daughter read and sing through the Advent prayer booklet that my parents used to read to me; my heart overflows with thanks.
Just being here.
Thank you God for reasons, in any season, to celebrate.
Lord, O precious and beautiful Savior. Lover of my soul. I stop and take a deep breath, my heart swells and I wonder how to tell you how thankful I am for you. I am so glad that you know even when I don’t have words. Your Holy Spirit speaks for me, shares in this overwhelming surge of joy that floods me. I can’t keep quiet. You are so good to us. And each day I am overwhelmed by your faithfulness. You see me, my family- I feel seen and loved by you. And saying those words fails to grasp how awesome this reality is- you are here with me. You are here with my children. You are with my husband as he works. You are with us. Thank you. Your presence brings joy and peace that I never imagined, and I am so grateful. Blessed be your Name. May your Name be praised in all the earth. Glory to our God and King. All honor and glory and praise is yours, precious Savior and friend. You call me friend. Emmanuel, thank you for the cross. In your precious Name I praise, Amen.