Advent. Perhaps my favorite time of the year. The reflection, the anticipation and the preparation.
So many times throughout scripture we see the mandate to “remember”.
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. (Deut. 5.15)
Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. (1 Chron. 16.12)
The gift of remembering gives us the opportunity to see God’s faithfulness in the past so that we can trust Him more fully in the future.
I remember our first Christmas together as husband and wife, as we celebrated with family and then drove all New Year’s Eve night to Southern Seminary.
The place where we would learn to trust God as Jehovah Jireh, our provider. And three Christmases later we would celebrate with our own firstborn son.
I remember Christmas seasons in merry ol’ England, ushering in our time of preparation with King’s College Choir and Handels Messiah in London. Spending Boxing Day with our local village vicar and his wife, soaking in the rich traditions of our British heritage. And the plays at the kids’ British school where they would actually talk about Baby Jesus.
So many fond memories fill my mind each December.
I remember singing and dancing at the Christmas tree in Norway, eating risgrøt, pepperkaker and walking through Gamle Stavanger with our torches lit, leading us to the town Kirke (church).
Between California and Florida assignments, we spent several years building sandcastles and replicating our time in Norway as I made our teenage children hold hands and dance around a mound of white sand, with the ocean waves roaring a few feet away, pretending to be in Norway once again.
More recently, I treasure the memory of having all my adult children filing into the pew and lighting candles at the National Cathedral here in DC, taking a few moments together and reflecting on the goodness and favor of the Lord in our lives.
Anticipation and Preparation.
I sometimes wonder if I robbed my children of the gift of anticipation and preparation as they were growing up.
I never wanted them to be disappointed if a special event ended up not happening, so in an effort to protect them, I often withheld news of an exciting activity, just in case it didn’t happen.
Thankfully Advent, the season of anticipation and preparation, will never end in disappointment.
Every Christmas morning delivers a fresh Hope and assurance of even greater things than we could begin to imagine.
I wonder. As Mary did. I treasure these things in my heart. Like Mary did. Every morning in December I look forward to getting up a few minutes earlier, lighting the candles that remind me of The Hope that has dawned, and sitting in quiet reflection. I remember the past fondly. I anticipate what God has planned for the upcoming days. And I prepare my heart to be His home.
Advent. The most wonderful time of the year.