Awestruck: Embracing the Wonder of Advent

I was born 9 months before Christmas 1979; my young age did not prevent my mother from waking me at 5 am to push gifts in front of her bewildered daughter.  My father loves to tell this story as my Christmas origin story.  After that year I was hooked!  My dad had to make rules just for Christmas morning.

  1. No waking Mom and Dad before 4am.
  2. You can open your stockings when you get up.
  3. Dad must have a cup of coffee in his hand if he’s getting out of bed.

Simple rules to help my parents keep their sanity…even though we know they LOVED the wonder and awe of Christmas morning just as much as my brother and I did.

My parents didn’t just love Christmas morning; they love Jesus and all that the Advent season means for our faith.  Yet something about my parents approach to the Advent and Christmas celebration instilled wonder and awe in me that has carried into my adult years.  This wonder and expectation has carried me through many years as a pastor, where Christmas can become routine and more work than we would hope.

I find myself awestruck at God’s audacious grace and love for us.  His lavishness in giving the world his son.  The fullness that came to the world by God’s design.  He worked within humanity, Mary, Joseph, shepherds and wise men all played roles in the divine breaking into the mundane.  That’s the part that always gets me.  That the greatest gift of all, a gift of peace, of salvation and of hope was birthed through God’s will and the willingness of a young girl to say Yes to God.  The support and care of her fiancé even when he had every right to toss her out.  These normal people allowed God to work something world changing through them and I am who I am today because of their faithfulness.

Mary and Joseph’s story gives me hope that God can use me. Every Advent season I am reminded of His desire to work within our lives, to bring peace, hope and love to this world we live in.

My parents taught me to expect great things during the Advent season, but they also taught me to expect great things from God during the mundane days too.  Whether you’re excited about the celebration of Christmas or you find that it has lost the wonder and magic you once found in it-spend a moment today reading about a young girl and her faith. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)  Reflect on the wonder of God breaking into human history in such a magnificent way.

On Christmas morning, for a few moments take in the sights and sounds.  Hear the joyous sounds of your family and friends enjoying each other’s company and gifts.  In the midst of it all quiet your spirit and listen for the whisper of the Spirit that says, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)

My prayer for you and me is that we will approach this Advent season, not so caught up in the busy tasks of life and ministry but with hearts tuned to the wonder, magic, expectation and awe of the Advent of our Savior, Jesus.

A little of my mother’s crazed excitement mixed in can’t hurt either!

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