What will you allow to capture your heart this Advent season?
“O come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel…”
These are the words of one of my favorite Advent hymns. For me, these lyrics are hauntingly beautiful. O how I pray that Emmanuel (which means “God Is with Us”) will ransom my captive heart particularly during the Advent season. At this busy holiday season, I am prone to letting my heart become captive of so many things: the hectic pace; the growing ‘to do’ list as decorating, shopping, baking, wrapping, sending cards all loom ahead; the pressure of producing the prefect holiday experience; and the cynicism of the season. I also find myself letting my heart become captive of other’s expectations particularly in the church. We ALL want to sing our favorite Christmas hymns during Advent. We ALL want to rush past Advent (or perhaps ignore it all together) so that we can get Christmas over already. We ALL want that perfect Christmas experience no matter what the cost (resources, time, and relationships). Sometimes we mourn in lonely exile as what we want gets in the way and even denies us of those things (such as love, peace and joy) we truly need.
And then we hear these words, this promise in the midst of exile: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” Emmanuel has come and our captive hearts have been set free. Christ came all those years ago in the form of a baby, and continues to come to us over and over again as Savoir. Jesus is born anew in our hearts this Christmas and brings us the gift of abundant life. God has done this wondrous thing not just for us but for the entire world.
What will you allow to capture your heart this Advent season? How will you rejoice in the Good News of Jesus Christ? How are you preparing your heart for the coming again of Christ? I believe that pausing to both ask and answer these questions is important. Both Advent and Christmas is about what God has done, what God is doing and what God will do in the world. May we all approach this Advent and Christmas season with prayerful hearts as we give thanks that Christ has come, Christ is risen and that Christ will come again! Mark and I wish you and yours a very Merry and Holy Christmas and a Happy New Year! We so look forward to celebrating Advent, Christmas and the New Year with you all.
Grace and peace,