I have a friend who keeps putting excerpts from her Advent readings from John Piper’s book Good News of Great Joy on Facebook. I learned from her that this is available free on desiringgod.org, in case you are interested.
I have never been one to do Advent readings. At least not specific to Advent. I generally just read whatever I was reading before.
Over the past two years, that has been somewhere in the New Testament after the Gospels because I have been doing some read the Bible in a year sorts of studies. The whole notion of reading the Christmas story or prophecies during this time seems intriguing, though I have argued in the past that the entire story God has written in the world points to Him and thus points to Jesus, so it is all relevant.
Last year, our church was pretty big on Advent preparation as a family and our small group spent some time looking at certain scriptures and having some Christmas preparation time together (see posts here and here). The notion was to prepare for Jesus as a family. I liked it. But it was really only a one or two night commitment.
Advent is a time of preparation. A time to look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Not just a time with some awesome chocolate-y calendars and Christmas shopping madness.
The readings this friend keeps posting make me think. Even if I don’t take time to read the entire thing.
One of the first days she posted said this…
Build God-centered anticipation and expectancy and excitement into your home – especially for the children. If you get excited about Christ, they will be too. –John Piper.
That is an interesting notion. Obviously kids are influenced by their parents. But not just kids, really anyone can be influenced by anyone.
I am kind of a “bah humbug” sort of person. I get cranky when I hear excessive festive things too early in December and boycott almost everything Christmas prior to December. I get festive a couple days before Christmas.
Advent really isn’t a thing for me aside from the usual church stuff.
This was a good reminder to me.
As a lover of Jesus, I should be excited for Christmas, just like I would be excited to celebrate my husband’s birthday or the birth of a friend’s child. And I think I really do like Christmas, just not the hoopla that goes along with it these days. But, I don’t really differentiate them.
Maybe if I were more excited for Jesus, I would be more excited for Christmas. Or at least, I could explain why I am excited in part.
I probably should be more intentional with these things.
And I intend to be.
God was super intentional about this stuff.
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. –Proverbs 21:1
God does big things and He does them for us. Even though in the grand scheme of things we are so small.
It is pretty mind blowing to think about how everything in the Christmas story worked together. And that everything before that led up to it. And everything afterward still points to it.
We celebrate a huge holiday every year because of it.
So, maybe I just need to suck it up and get over the commercialism that I hate. Perhaps I need to step back and really look at the true meaning of the season. Not just to get away from the icky parts I dislike, but to get back into the important parts of the story. The fact that God does something very big amidst the day to day.
The question is not what God could do, but what he willed to do. God’s will was that though Christ was rich, yet for your sake he became poor. The “No Vacancy” signs over all the motels in Bethlehem were for your sake. “For your sake he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). –John Piper.
When you really look at all that happened, how can you not look forward with anticipation and gratitude?
Furthermore, how can I worry about today when He has held everything together in such circumstances?
Look at Mary and Elizabeth! They went through big things. And the whole census thing to plunk Mary and Joseph in the right place at the right time? Crazy!
Therefore, I think me being intentional about looking forward with anticipation and excitement. If God can use normal people and cause giant civic events, then maybe He can use me. Or at least use my anticipation to shape me… Make me a bit less Grinchy.
Who knows. The whole God being born a baby to a virgin thing is pretty crazy. Anything is possible.
And now I am excited about it. I just need to maintain that excitement. And I am sure God will help me do that through His writing and those in the book I am going to start reading.