by Rev. Mona Chicks, contributor
When I was a child, the Christmas season was magical. I was entranced by the lights that shone throughout the dark nights. The crisp quality in the air readied me to wear heavy coats and boots. I looked forward to getting new books and toys that were specially picked out for me, instead of the hand-me-downs that were my usual fare. We had feasts in the homes of people from church throughout the month, and people walked around with smiles on their faces. There was joy in the air.
As an adult – a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, daughter-in-law, and church-worker – Christmas has taken on a different quality. It isn’t so much magical as it is stressful and chaotic. Amidst all the responsibilities, planning, events, baking, cooking, trips to the post office and the airport, the month of December can feel ominous.
In the midst of the chaos, though, I want to learn to seek Jesus. I yearn to find opportunities to make space in my heart for Him. As in so many things, Jesus tells me how when he said,
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4 NIV)
What if I made space for Jesus by starting to approach the Advent season like I did as a child? What if I sought out the wonder and the expectation that I felt back then? I suspect the true meaning of Advent and Christmas would begin to invade.
I would find hope, letting the light of Jesus shine into the depth of my soul, like the lights on and in our homes drive away the darkness and bring cheer to long winter days.
I would find peace, being present in the moment instead of worrying about all that yet needs to be done. Experiencing God’s peace can be as simple as it is enjoying a meal with friends, considering the dearness of a person for whom I am are choosing a present, or praying that God will use the gift of my time and talent as I prepare for an event.
I would find joy as my expectation becomes Jesus rather than checking off boxes on a to do list. And because God is gracious and honors our re-ordering of our lives, somehow the important boxes still get checked.
I would find love in the most important relationships in my life – my relationship with Jesus deepens because I am looking to Him instead of to myself. My relationship with family and friends are buoyed as I allow Jesus’ love to seep out of me toward them.
But most importantly, I would find Christ. God promises that if we seek, we will find, if we seek with all our hearts.
So, seek first the Kingdom of God. All these other things – the cookies, the decorating, the endless task list – will come to you.
This Advent season, may you find space in your heart, in your life, and in your spirit for Jesus.