I've always loved the season of advent. As a kid, it meant advent calendars filled with chocolate and small presents. It meant purple at church. It meant that Christmas was getting close. The anticipation always filled me with excitement for Christmas and presents and cookies.
Lately, I've thought about just how important advent and Christmas are. In advent, we wait. We wait for Christmas to arrive, for all the traditions to happen. We wait like God's people waited for thousands of years for the Messiah they were promised.
Some years, advent is a breeze. Things come together easily and quickly. Some years, it's hard. My dad was in the hospital during advent two years ago, and I worked through an advent study and felt overwhelming peace throughout the process. I didn't know if he would be OK, but I knew that God knew. I knew that God works for good, that God was for me.
And when I think about what God has done, sending his son for me, Christ dying for my sins, I'm just blown away. I have the gift that generations waited for, that generations thought would come in their lifetime. I have the gift that made a way for me. The gift of redemption.
And that gift begins at Christmas. None of it would have been possible had God not sent Jesus to us as a man. We often find it so easy to celebrate Easter and keep it Christ-focused. Jesus is risen! The tomb is empty! But Christmas feels a bit harder sometimes.
It's only been in the past two years that I've been able to recognize the beauty in Christ at Christmas. It's the beginning of a promise fulfilled. And he did it all before we chose Him. It's truly the gift we never deserved or earned but one given out of his ever-flowing love and mercy. He loved us before we loved Him. He knew us before we knew Him. He saved us before we knew we needed to be rescued.
I hope that this Christmas for you has been filled with love and joy and family. If it hasn't, I pray that you feel the love of God and a peace that transcends understanding.