At the age of 54, my memories of my childhood are fuzzy at best. I do remember, however, my very first birthday party at the age of five. This was a big deal because it was the first time I got to make up the guest list and invite friends from my kindergarten class as well as friends from the neighborhood.
I got to pick out the vanilla cake layered with pink butter cream icing and the pretty, frilly dress I was going to wear. With a little guidance from my mother, I had say in what would be served for lunch. I had final veto power on what party games we would play. My mom was so creative, I wanted to play them ALL!
The day of the party, it was all about me...friends brought gifts picked especially for me and I got to be the one to open them. I got to pick who went first at pin the nose on the clown. I got to decide who sat next to whom at the big dining room table and who would have the choice seat next to me on the two seat bench.
A lot of the fun (for me) came in the anticipation of the party. My poor mother... I probably drove her crazy, because at the age of five you have no concept of how long a month or a week is. With each passing day leading up to my party, I got more and more excited. With each passing day my mother probably wanted to tear her hair out with my perpetual asking, "Is today the day?"
What if we had a birthday party and everyone at the party paid attention to everything else but us? We'd be offended. If this had happened at my first birthday party, I may have thrown a tantrum?!
This, I believe, is what we do with Jesus. We get so wrapped up in the party that we forget just WHO it is for...Who we are there to celebrate.
Fortunately, Jesus is not like us...He doesn't get offended and He certainly doesn't throw a tantrum. I wonder sometimes, though, what He does think?
When He sees all the commercialism and people stressing themselves out with massive "to do" lists, what goes through His mind and His heart?
Does it hurt that everyone has come to the party, but no eyes are upon Him?
Jesus didn't come into this world, as God made man, with a triumphant entry. No, He came quietly and humbly. God, made flesh in the form of a tiny baby, was born in virtual anonymity in a barren stable in the town of Bethlehem. His king's throne was a feeding trough for the lowly animals. This is how the King of Kings came to His first birthday party.
This is how Jesus entered the world and this is how he wants to enter out lives:
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)
Jesus doesn't burst through the door and proclaim His presence. No, He knocks softly. We must be quiet and still enough to hear His voice because He will not shout. Then, if we hear His voice we must choose to open the door.
The Jews waited centuries for the coming of the Messiah that was prophesied in the Old Testament. Yet when He did come they missed it. All those years of waiting and anticipating and then the moment arrives and in all their excitement...they missed it.
Have you ever had that feeling the day after Christmas, that everything leading up to it was just a blurr and now comes the disappointment that it's over?
I have...and I don't like it.
I think back to my first birthday party and how much fun it was to prepare for the party and to anticipate its arrival.
What if, this Christmas, I approached Jesus' birthday from the mindset of a five year old?
What if I slowed myself and put more emphasis on the preparation of my heart and the anticipation of the birthday of the greatest person ever to be born?
What if the beforehand held the same excitement as the day of?
What if I quieted the commotion around me so I could hear His voice?
What if everything I did was centered on the birthday boy and not on his party? What would that look like?
Last year I began, on December 1st, reading Ann Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping The Full Love Story Of Christmas". It is a short, easy to read, daily devotional for the season of Advent. (Available at www.dayspring.com ). Ann's writing, however, brings the beauty and the mystery of the season alive.
I also bought a small Jesse Tree and each day of Advent, I put the corresponding ornament on the tree (Dayspring sells the ornaments or you can make your own). I looked forward each day, with great anticipation, to what that reading would be about.
Preparing each and every day helped me to remember and appreciate the most awe-inspiring thing that happened in the whole of history: God becoming man in the glory and mystery of the incarnation.
Setting aside time each day to prepare my heart for His coming was the best gift I could have ever given myself. I didn't let Christmas just sneak up on me.
This year I am looking forward to reading the devotional and hanging the ornaments with my husband. I think I'm looking forward to this more than the actual Christmas day.
There is true beauty in letting our hearts experience the anticipation of Advent.
Don't hurry past the "coming" in our rush to get to when He "comes".
That's why I'm posting this on December 1st. It's not too late to grab a copy of Ann's book or prepare an Advent wreath. There are a myriad of ways to celebrate this season of anticipation of Christ's coming.
Would you share in the comments how you best like to prepare your heart for Christ's coming?...I'd love to hear.
Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you that you love us so much that you were willing to leave your place on high and become flesh in the form of a tiny baby. Thank you for coming into the pain and sin of this world so that you could fulfill your destiny to become our Messiah. Lord, we are powerless to save ourselves from our own sin. Help us not to be so busy with what the world would have us get caught up in that we miss the true meaning of this season. Lord, DON'T LET ME MISS YOU!!
Let me let YOU be the focus of my excitement and anticipation. Let my heart be filled with joy as I prepare to welcome YOU. Let me remember it's YOUR birthday that I am celebrating. I proclaim your name above all names. For it is in Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
ps. What if you woke up on Christmas morning and there were fewer gifts under your tree because you gave to those whose needs were greater than your wants??
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Give the gift of HOPE this Christmas...thank you!!
Bev, this is great. I love the idea of slowing down our celebration so that we can pay attention to the object of our rejoicing! We have a daily advent devotional with our boys, and I find myself looking forward to that little pause in the day -- Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given . . .ReplyDelete
Yes, a little pause. I so need that every day in order to get my heart refocused on what this season is all about. Joining with you in attempting to slow down and take it all in!
Blessings dear friend,
Your words blessed me this morning. There is so much that I have been reflecting on in anticipation of Advent. To me this is the time that we need to spend our focus because in the waiting and opening of our hearts to the story of Jesus, we will be more fully alive to how Jesus works in us. These were my favorite words today..."Don't hurry past the "coming" in our rush to get to when He "comes". May we all soak in God's presence this Advent season and let Him slowly unfold the most beautiful gift of Jesus that we receive on Christmas . Blessings!ReplyDelete
Like you, I want to be more fully alive to how Jesus works in me. I love the beauty in the unfolding of the Gift...may we not be in such a rush to rip the Gift open...
Blessings sweet friend,
Hoping your weekend was blessed! Love seeing you at the same linkups each week. It's a beautiful community.Delete
I've already pulled out an Advent devotional book I bought last year: Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room, by Jean Wise (one of my blogger friends). I love centering my heart each morning of December with an Advent-themed devotional. You've got me thinking, though: What more could I do to celebrate more meaningfully these days of Advent, leading up to Christmas? Not that I'm looking for more items to add to the to-do list! But simple acts might do much to augment the experience of Advent, to avoid hurrying past the "coming" in the rush to get to when He "comes." Thank you, Bev, for a thoughtful, practical post!ReplyDelete
Jean has some great wisdom...what a great place to go to center your heart! Like you, I want to be more intentional during Advent. I just read a wonderful blog post on giving the intentional gift of prayer this season...going to try to incorporate that more. Also, may we both take our fingers to the ivories to celebrate Him with music :)
Jesus' humble example of coming into this world not to be worshipped or spotlighted continues to blow me away. He is a KING and wanted nothing more than to do His Father's will. I want to live like that...ReplyDelete
Joining with you in wanting to do nothing else beside the will of our Heavenly Father! I want to live like that too...
Dear Bev ... I just had to let you know how I appreciated your encouragement to get hold of Ann Voskamp's 'The Greatest Gift' a few weeks back. Thank you, friend! Already, her company and her sensitive wise words are fast becoming a lovely companion for this advent season.ReplyDelete
Thank you, thank you! May this weekend be filled with the loveliest of His comforts and joys!
Glad you got it and are enjoying it!! Reading it again this year for the second time and new and different aspects stand out...the amazing thing about God's word...ageless, but ever new! Have a blessed Advent season friend!!
Bev, I couldn't agree more! It's been a difficult week because I'm saddened by the anxiety and pressure I feel - the "expectation" to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on gifts for everybody. It doesn't click with my brain. Maybe I'm starting to "get it". The point of buying and spending is worldly. The point of honoring and meditating during Advent is all Him. Thank you for writing this!ReplyDelete
I think Best Buy's advertisement this year that says, "With a gift from Best Buy, you can WIN Christmas." That about sums up the worldly view. Savoring, meditating, being intentional with kindness and blessings toward others...that, I believe, is what our Savior would have us be about this season. Thanks for sharing!
Dear Bev, I don't see how I missed this beautiful post until now! Glad to see it at Kelly Balarie's. I'm with you %100. I enjoy more the celebration of advent. It makes celebration last a whole month, and it helps me focus on the miracle of Christ's coming. It's a little strange doing it this year with just three of us, since my son's at college, but I'm glad for your example of doing it with your husband. Beautiful. Although we're not doing that this year, I love the Jesse tree because you see God's work in all of history leading up to Christ!ReplyDelete
This is a beatutiful post and an important reminder for all of us this time of year. I have heard so many good things about Anne's book, I will definitely be keeping my eye out for it next year. I tend to cost through the holidays, and find myself neither here nor there. I'm not trapped in commercialism or busyness, but I'm not focused on celebrating Jesus either. I find my focus is on family, which is a good place to fall. But I would love to take it one step further and be a good example to my children and show them through my actions the purpose of the season. Thank you for the encouragement, Bev.ReplyDelete
Take heart...it's taken me many years to get to the place where I am with celebrating the true meaning of Christmas...and I'm still a work in progress. I suppose the more I realized I truly DID need a Savior...that I couldn't be good enough on my own...that the importance of Jesus NEEDING to come for me has grown in significance in my heart. May you and your family have a joyous Christmas...thanks for sharing!
Bev, you have such a poignant way of driving your point home and I love how you've created this analogy between birthday parties and how we often treat Christmas. Yes, I have experienced that disappointment and depressed feeling after the holidays, and for what? I love this post, friend. Thank you for reminding me what it's really about.ReplyDelete
Beautiful post, "We get so wrapped up in the party that we forget just WHO it is for...Who we are there to celebrate." This. Stopping by from TellHisStory and I'm so glad we were neighbors. Your post was a blessing to me.ReplyDelete
So glad to be your neighbor and excited that you stopped by! May we all remember, this Christmas, just who the party is for :) Thanks for your kind comment.
Does it hurt that everyone has come to the party, but no eyes are upon Him? Yes ma'am!ReplyDelete
I had the thrill of my lifetime earlier this year. A trip to Israel including Bethlehem. Oh to be and see where Jesus was born...
Such an inspired post Bev. Thank you!
That is my dream to go to the Holy Land and be able to walk where Jesus walked. I can only imagine what must come over you to see where Jesus was born!!! Living vicariously through you today. Thanks for the encouragement!
Bev, I want to center around Jesus' heart. Please God, help me to take the time to think about how to reach in and pull out everything that IS Jesus and not IS about me. Thank you for helping me rethink and re-evaluate all things Christmas. I love you lots.ReplyDelete
I'm so with you in wanting it to be about Jesus and not about me. I'm glad I gave you some food for thought. Always good to have you here!
Oh Bev, this is such a great analogy. My family had a discussion this year about how we could simplify our usually overwhelming Christmas and keep it simple. Just the thought of letting go of some of the chaos has brought a wonderful feeling of peace and comfort leading into the season. It's funny that you mention the Advent tree. When my son was little, we had some type of Advent calendar every year. Now that he's 15, we don't do that anymore. I think it's time to start again! Thanks for the reminder:)ReplyDelete
Never too old for an Advent calendar, I say :) I love the Jesse advent tree because it really keeps me focused on the here and now and enjoying the anticipation that Advent is all about. So glad you're here!!
Wonderful post. May we focus more on the meaning, worshiping our Lord, and I believe we will have our hearts moved more deeply in Him. Thank you for reminding us to make time to be still as we wait. Blessings!ReplyDelete
Be still and wait...that's what we/I need to do, but it can be so very difficult. I believe that only when we still ourselves and our hearts are we able to hear God's voice of love to us. Joining with you in being still in the waiting...