Welcome to the season of “Advent”! “A what vent?” I know you probably know what Advent means, but most people outside the church subculture have no idea what it means. It’s just one of those “churchy” words that is seldom used in everyday conversations. In the church or the holy huddle we know Advent refers to the Christmas season, the time of year when we celebrate the coming of the Messiah, Immanuel (God with us), God’s one and only Son, the Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords, etc. Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. To say that Jesus arrival was notable is an understatement. We have even set aside a special date or day to celebrate His arrival. It’s not just a “game changer”. It changed everything.
Of course we know that Jesus may or may not have been born on December 25th. The date of His birth is not mentioned in the Bible. According to scholars, it was customary for the Jews to send their sheep to pasture from the spring until early October. As the cold winter months began, the flocks would return from the fields for shelter and warmth. Since the shepherds were still tending their flocks in the fields around Bethlehem it could be concluded that the angels announced the news of Jesus’ birth around the end of October, and He was born shortly thereafter, but know one knows for certain.
December 25th or around that date historically is also associated with Greek and Roman pagan celebrations, as well as the Jewish “Feast of Dedication”, “Festival of lights,” or Hanukkah commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BC.
The date is not as important as our recognition and celebration of the arrival and advent of our Savior and Lord. One day is not enough anyway, right? Is one day more special than another? Before you get the impression that I am making light of or being critical of our current recognition of special days, I’m not. I love this time of year, the weather and the pageantry of the season. My birthday is October 1st followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is the seasonal trifecta for me! I love it! But, I’ll admit that keeping focused on Christ at Christmas can be pretty challenging for a “heavenly host” of reasons. Did you see what I did there?
Today, our culture seems intent on taking “Christ” out of Christmas. I’m not surprised, nor do I want to stir up that debate, but it’s interesting that many have started saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, when the word “holiday” probably evolved from “holy day” or “holy days”. “High Holy Days” also refers to the Jewish holy days of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. So even when our culture tries to take the “Christ” out of Christmas, they still have a hard time taking God or “HOLY”-ness out of our days. Kind of makes you say hmmm…doesn’t it?
“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” Genesis 1:3-5 NIV
Basically all days have the potential to be “holy” because God created them. It just depends on what we do with them, right?
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:15-20 NIV
“This is the day, which the LORD hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 KJV
It’s always interesting where these little literary journeys take me each week. Yesterday, I started with a devotional about Christmas, a special day. But, It ended up being a reminder to focus on the day right in front of me, today. It’s up to me to make it special, to make the most of it.
Lord, help us all find peace, joy, and love during this special season of remembrance. Your Sons arrival is the most significant “advent” in history. May we find Christ in Christmas day and every other day because they are the days that you have made. Let us rejoice and be glad in them! Amen.
Love y’all! Have a great weekend!
Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.