“Do you WANT to be delivered? That is the one great question Advent puts to us. Does even a vestige of longing burn in us? If not, what do we want from Advent, what do we want from Christmas?” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
As a child, what we really desire is presents under the tree. Maybe like young Ralphie, all we wanted was that Red Ryder BB gun.
But then in a blink we look down at our aged hands and realize the passing shadow that is life has left us wrinkled, calloused, and dry. Too weary to look up, a tree full of ornaments and memories but empty of purpose. We look through picture albums and old journals in our attempt to experience *something* this Christmas season.
Maybe you are there this Christmas season, because you realize this is the first Christmas without Mom.
The first Christmas without children under your roof.
The first Christmas alone.
The first Christmas in a new place, away from family, away from friends.
Maybe, this is the first Christmas at church that you don't feel at home on Sunday mornings anymore.
Change has removed the traditions you held most dear.
All we want this Christmas is purpose. We want to experience...something meaningful.
For those of you, like me, who are longing for meaning... be reminded that God has not left you.
His presence, though not entirely felt, is here.
"Here". Wherever "Here" is for you.
“God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need, God gives God. God gives God, and we only need to slow long enough to unwrap the greatest Gift with our time: time in His Word, time in His presence, time at His feet.” - Ann Voskamp
In Ephesians 3, the Apostle Paul writes these words to the Church in Ephesus:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (vs.14-21 NIV)
I love this passage, it is Paul's written prayer for his brothers and sisters who he loved so much, but when I realized the context this prayer was written in... Game changer.
"that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" is directly related to the reason Paul wrote this. So often we overlook how passages begin. He says, "For this reason I kneel..."
What reason? It is given to us in verse 12: God's presence with us through Jesus Christ.
Paul is talking about the knowledge of God's presence with us.
And so, if this Christmas season you just "aren't feeling it". I ask, what is it that you are really wanting?
All sense of unsatisfaction is rooted in something much deeper... What is it that you were wishing for this Christmas?
Is it deliverance? Because God's answer is Himself, the rescuer of mankind refuses to leave you where He found you. He will take you in as a son or daughter, place a ring on your finger, dress you in a purple robe and we will feast and celebrate the great saving love He has for you.
Is it a knowledge that you are loved? Because God's answer is again, Himself, love incarnate. He gifts you His very own body, His very own being of love. It's yours. It's mine.
Is it acceptance? Is it any surprise that the bloody, beaten image of God the Son hanging on a cross, after being rejected by His people, beaten, and humiliated has His arms wide open accepting you... accepting me. God Has given us Himself.
And in every one of these ways... God has gifted us His presence with us. In our sin. In our shame. In our desperation. In our tears. In our anxiety. He whispers PEACE into our chaos.
Until we see God as the present, involved, loving, relational Father He is, and not as just a cosmic force, we will always feel some kind of unsatisfaction in our relationship with Him.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.