Today we officially entered the Advent season, marking, in our house, the true beginning of Christmas. But if I’m to be perfectly honest, it’s been Christmas in our house for a couple of weeks now. (We) absolutely love Christmas and my husband would probably contest the ‘we’ in this, but in our house, we LOVE decorating early, planning early and really maximising this wonderful season. Over the years as our children have grown older, we’ve tried to make it more about Jesus and less about the other stuff. But it hasn’t always been easy. It is so hard not to get pulled into the commercialism of Christmas and get dazzled by bright lights, gorgeous seasonal coffees, lovely food and let’s be honest, the mince pies.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been memorising Scripture as a family for various reasons that I talked about here last week. But the main reason we’ve been trying to do that is because we are trying to write God’s word on our hearts in a world that is trying to pull us in with reason, opinion and practice that might conflict with what God wants us to focus on. As we ended the week, another American tradition seemed to have permanently been welcomed into the UK. Black Friday returned for the second year running and apparently was as popular if not more so than last year. As we drove home from the school run on Friday, I heard a newscaster refer to this frenzy in the shops as the ‘true mark of the Christmas season’. I sincerely hope not.
As we enter into the season of Advent, we probably won’t be able to avoid taking part in all of the things associated with the commercialisation of Christmas. I know many people who try really hard and manage really well to stay away from all of it and to keep Christ at the very centre of Christmas. But unfortunately, as a family, we’re not able to do that yet. But tonight as we reflected on the past week and my daughter excitedly pointed out that they get their advent calendars this week, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to begin this Advent season differently and to continually, over the next 25 days, explore the ‘why’ of Christmas.
And while chocolate is great and presents are good, to us, to those who know Jesus, it must remain about Him. Because He was born to us. And I feel in many ways that this is how we should begin this Advent season; by looking at what is considered a normal Christmas and realise that to us, It is different. And to realise that He wasn’t just born to stay in the manger but he came with purpose. Isaiah talks about how ‘the government will be on His shoulders’, bearing a name that is higher than any other name or any other kingdom.
This is especially good news this week as our government debates on a strategy for war that would make the Prince of Peace sad. But the good news is that because he wears the government on His shoulders, we can go to him with the issues of ours and He can fix it. For to us, He is more than just a baby in a wooden nativity scene at the local shopping mall, more than the presents we’ll fill our cars with, more than the decorations we’ll untangle tomorrow, or the John Lewis advert on our TV we’ve gathered to watch each year now and shed a tear over. He means more than the reason for ordering a ‘seasonal coffee’ or the reason we’ll have turkey this year. And chicken. And lamb. And beef. And fish. And that’s just my house. We celebrate Him because he sits at the centre of the season. And when He does, He brings wonderful counsel, and a reign of everlasting peace. To us, Christmas begins first and foremost, with Christ.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.