For many years as our boys were growing up, we celebrated Advent. It starts the 4th Sunday before Christmas. Each night around the dining room table there were verses recalled and read as a candle was lit - each week lighting one more. Our candle holder was a wooden bird where candles fit into the ends of the pieces which where the feathers. It was made by our nephew, Jason.
The boys were eager to volunteer to light a candle and recall it's meaning of how God proved Himself faithful in providing the promised Messiah. All other lights in the house were off. Only the candles dimly lit the room. Verses were read from the book of Isaiah. We then sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel, each week adding another verse. Christmas Day, the fifth and final candle was lit. We no longer sang the haunting words and melody of Emmanuel. It was now the time to celebrate answered prayer. So the song became Joy to the World the Lord Is Come!
Holding hands around the table, we ended our time in prayer. I think the boys enjoyed blowing the candles out as much as lighting them.
Dale and I haven't really celebrated Advent since they've been gone. I don't know where the bird candle holder is since we moved 5 years ago. And more of a loss, I don't know where the book "Let's Celebrate" has disappeared to. It was a book that gave ideas for celebrating many holidays as a family and had the verses which we used each year for Advent. It also had a photo of Zach, when he was about 3 years old, marking the Advent pages.
One meaning of Advent is "the coming or arrival". I know that in the past several years without that nightly reminder to prepare for Christ's coming, I have been more caught up with preparing for our family coming home.
Getting rooms ready - food prepared - gifts bought & wrapped. (Well.. soon!) All of these things are good and necessary.
But, with God's gentle nudge, I've been convicted of my neglect in preparing for His coming.
Preparing food - but is my heart prepared?
Cleaning rooms - but is my heart free from sin?
Buying gifts for others - but am I aware of His "indescribable gift" throughout my day?
So I encourage you, as you see the Christmas lights, as you sit and look at your tree and as you listen to the Christmas carols on the radio - give thanks to God for the most precious gift of all.
Smile and rejoice in the real reason for giving.