Every Friday morning, a dedicated group of parents gathers to pray for our students, staff, and school community (8:15 – 9:15 am in room 228 at the secondary campus). I have had the privilege of praying alongside them a few times. Recently we talked a lot about the many challenges faced by students, families, and our wider society. During our time of prayer, I began to reflect on the word, joy, and I started thinking about this advent season.
I think I need advent more than ever this year.
Advent is a time of waiting for the gift of Jesus Christ, a gift none of us are worthy of, and a gift bestowed on us all by an ever-loving, gracious, heavenly Father. But waiting takes time…and advent waiting takes time and intentionality.
So, as I wait for Christmas day, let me share a few of the ways I’m trying to wait with intentionality and how I’m reminded of God, His love, and the gift of His son.
Each year our family pulls names, buys a Christmas present for that person, and then writes a poem for them. This has been a long-standing tradition; one that will look different this year. This is our first family Christmas without my mom, Louise. The last few years we’ve chosen a theme and this year we chose the colour purple in honour of my mom (a nod to her crazy purple hair).
This will be a hard Christmas….
But even though we’ll have an empty spot, and one less poem to read, this year I’m reminded of the hope of the second advent. The second coming of Jesus Christ in which I’ll be reunited with my mom (and many others) for all eternity.
I’m going to hold on to that hope this year.
The world seems a lot less peaceful this year. Conflict in Ukraine, on-going gun violence, unrest, natural disasters, famine, political divides…the list goes on.
But I was reminded in John Piper’s advent devotional about the power of God in orchestrating a census that brought Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem to not only fulfil prophecies from the Old Testament but bless His people.
“For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own sake, but for the sake of God’s little people—the little Mary and the little Joseph who have to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem.” (Good News of Great Joy, 34)
God will one day restore this fallen world; the first Christmas was the first step. Be reminded, as I have been, that God is continuing to orchestrate His everlasting peace and renewal.
I love giving gifts. It’s one of my favourite things to do. I often play a very active role in Christmas shopping for the family, wrapping presents, and looking for just the right gift. It is so much fun to think about my daughters, their interests, passions, and talents. To find just the right gift to show our love for them, and to bring them joy. Plus, I love finding the most unpractical gifts I can for my wife.
Do we earn our gifts at Christmas? Certainly not! But through giving a gift there is immense love experienced by both the giver and receiver.
Have we earned the gift of Jesus? Certainly not! But this year, more so than others, I’m reminded about the joy given to me as I receive the gift of Jesus as well as a small glimpse of the love God has for us in giving us this gift.
So, when you, or the ones you love, open a present this Christmas, remember that’s just a small glimpse into the love and Joy that God experiences in giving us His son.
During our recent snow day, as I sat in the boardroom during our leadership team meeting when I got a text from my wife, Suzanne. It was a short video of my three girls on one sled, sledding together down a hill. The laughter, screaming, and smiles reminded me of what pure joy looks like. Pure, honest joy. In some ways, that moment captures just a small part of God’s joy for us, and how he looks upon us. We are His children, and he takes great Joy in us.
This will be a hard advent season. There will be a lot of sadness in our family this year, and many other families, as we mark a first Christmas without someone around our table. But there is a lot of hope, peace, love, and joy too. We just need to wait with intentionality and anticipation.