I put a lot of effort in seeking out Christmas gifts to give my family.
I ask my kids what they want for Christmas, and they invariably say cash or gift cards. I steadfastly refuse to give in to these requests. I make them fill out a wish list (also typically filled with gift card orders for specific stores).
I look at the list, but rarely use them. I mean, what effort does it take to check off a wish list? “Got a book for her, sweater for him, jewelry for my wife. Budget met, gifts acquired.” It’s too easy.
My goal is to discover a gift that, when opened, causes their eyes to pop open, a slight gasp to be inhaled, and a smile to spread across the loved one’s face. This gift wasn’t on any list. They probably didn’t even know they wanted it. But as soon as they open it, they love it.
I picked it out especially for that person, because I know who they are. And I love to give them good gifts (even when they didn’t ask for it).
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
- Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13
The final Sunday of Advent is about the joy in opening the gift our Father sent to us.
We may have asked for a new job. More money. Better kids (you know who you are). A bigger influence. Our list of requests is endless.
On this, the last Sunday of Advent, Christmas Eve, we only really need one thing.
Immanuel—God with us.
Christmas is not just the culmination of the season of Advent. We received the promises of the coming Messiah and placed our hope in those promises. We prepared our hearts, even through the dark silence of the centuries. We persevered as a woman going through labor to see the arrival of the King. What we studied over the past 3 weeks in reality took thousands of years.
Christmas is about the coming of Christ. The long-awaited Savior. A gift seems sweeter the longer you have had to wait for it. Imagine the overwhelming joy these people felt who saw and met the Promised One. When they gazed into His eyes. When His hands healed their bodies, and their hearts. Oh, what joy John felt as he exclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”
He’s here! He’s finally here!
And while we look back with thanksgiving and joy at the birth of Jesus, our heart yearns for something more. We too find ourselves in a dark time, longing for a coming King. When every tear is wiped away. When death and sorrow are no more. When everything lost has been restored, and the world is made new.
And we will gaze on the face of Jesus as He welcomes us home. We will feel the warmth of His embrace, the touch of His hands as our tears are wiped away. And we will say, “He’s here! He’s finally here!”
Friends, brothers, sisters: as we close this Advent season with the joyous celebration of Christmas, remember there is more. Our faith is bigger than a baby in a manger two thousand years ago. It didn’t end on a cross, or when Jesus returned to life. Our King reigns today, and He will return to make things right.
This is our Hope.
This is the Promise.
This is our Joy.
Celebrate the coming of the King. Where is your joy these days?
Sunday (12/24) - Matthew 2:1-18; Revelation 19:11-16
Monday (12/25) - Luke 2:1-20; Revelation 21:1-5, 22:1-5
"Father, I thank You today for sending your son Jesus so that I could know You. Jesus, I thank you for coming, living with us, dying for my sin. You are now raised to life and reigning in heaven until Your return. Holy Spirit, I thank You for your life in me, connecting me with the Father and the Son. God, bring your Kingdom to earth. Your will be done. I love you, I worship you, I adore you. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen"
Music to meditate on:
Joy to the World
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
The Hallelujah Chorus
For further study about Advent:
A quick reminder: Advent isn't simply remembering the birth of Jesus, it is also looking ahead to the return of the King. All Things New, by John Eldredge, is a wonderful vision towards the coming Kingdom. Dan Horner put it the best, "Wild at Heart was about how to find your heart. All Things New is about how to find your hope." Get it today from Ransomed Heart for only $9.99.
If you'd like a different perspective on Advent, my friend Ryan Sanders is sharing a daily walk through this season. It's a short read that is well worth your time. You can find it here: http://www.theryansanders.com/blog/.
Advent is a season with a long history and depth of meaning. I put together information from many websites: