Today’s Table Talk is by our friend Ruth Meek who does such a terrific job helping us get our eyes focused on what’s important as we barrel toward what can be the Christmas crazies. So… take a deep breath, enjoy for a few days more the thankfulness we celebrated yesterday and lets prepare our minds and hearts together as we enter the season of celebrating others.
Thanks, Ruth for sharing your wisdom… and thanks for walking the road with me.
Advent means “coming.” The Advent Season, those four weeks prior to Christmas, offer us an opportunity to slow down and ponder the immensity of the Incarnation. Jesus, the Son of God, taking on human form and humbling himself, left the splendor of the ivory palaces in Heaven to come to sinful earth. Jesus the Word, who was with God and was God, became flesh so that we might recognize, love and serve the invisible God.
“The son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God.” C.S. Lewis
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! II Cor. 9:15
Christmas belongs to the church; it is our highest holyday (holiday). While it is a celebration of the birth of Christ over 2,000 years ago, it is also an opportunity to experience the nativity again, personally. The manger signifies the human heart. Advent gives us time to un-clutter our hearts and prepare Him room.
Advent is to Christmas what pregnancy is to the birth of a baby.
Anticipating a birth creates excitement and a sense of expectancy. So it is with Advent; we look with excitement to the coming of Jesus. During this season, there is a stronger sense of God’s presence which falls like a gentle rain on the just and the unjust. This common grace softens the hearts of men making them tender and yielding to the receive The Son. This holiday season provides unique opportunities.
Try using these Ten Tips to ensure that busyness does not crowd out that which is most important. How sad it would be to experience Christmas but miss Christ –his “re-birth” in your own heart and His birth in another’s heart.
1. Celebrate according to the church calendar. Advent begins the Sunday following Thanksgiving and ends on Epiphany, January 6. The four weeks of Advent are set aside to prepare for the celebration of the Incarnation.
2. Plan activities and spending before the season starts. Set limits for: decorating, entertaining, gift giving and special events. Leave unscheduled time on your calendar to meet the needs of people. The Advent season offers unique opportunities for ministry.
3. Spread out the work. Consider other holidays such as: Thanksgiving, New Years’ Day, Valentines’ Day, or Easter to send greeting cards, to host parties, and to give gifts.
4. Spend more time pouring over scripture than catalogs. Do not allow shopping and other holiday activities to preclude Bible study and prayer. Now more than ever you need God’s word to renew your mind and galvanize your heart against the crass commercialization of Christmas.
5. Prepare your heart more than you prepare your home. If Jesus returned this year and visited your home, would He recognize Himself as the one celebrated? Keep your decorating and your schedule simple. Leave space for God and for the needs of people.
6. Communicate with long-distance family and friends throughout the year. This will help you withstand the pressure to have an annual relationship check-up with them all at Christmas time. Consider honoring them on their birthdays rather than on His.
7. Host a birthday party for Jesus. Have guests bring presents for those in need. Host an evangelistic Christmas coffee for neighbors. Take advantage of the common grace of God which tenderizes hearts and makes people more open to The Gospel.
8. Learn the true story of Saint Nicholas: a 4th Century martyr whose generous gifts to the poor saved them from bondage and death. Consider the similarities of Nicolas and Jesus. Santa Claus is a secularized St. Nic which the non-religious can enjoy.
9. Give gifts to Christ by giving to the poor. Giving to those who cannot repay is the true spirit of Christmas giving. Consider adopting a needy family. “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25: 40).
10. Examine your gift giving practices. Try anonymous giving; it is a great motive purifier. Be aware of too much gift swapping with those who are equally affluent. Whose birthday is it, anyway?
As we reflect over Christ’s First Advent, we also acknowledge His triumphant Second Coming, a future bodily coming, marking the end of the age. “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
As one who longs for His appearing, I say, “Come Lord Jesus, come
Ruth Meek Redeeming Messages firstname.lastname@example.org
… and for those interesting in “pinning” Ruth’s terrific tips: