I love Christmas! It is one of my favorite times of the year. From the decorations to the carols, to the gifts, to the food, to the parties, and to the excitement of waking up Christmas morning, I am a fan of Christmas. Christmas is all those things, and Christmas is more. All my joy and merriment in Christmas find their true source in Jesus Christ. Now, I could easily miss this point by filling my time with just the merriment and activities of Christmas, and as a result exalt the created over the Creator. Just as harmfully, I could detach myself from the merriment and activities of Christmas in a monastic or legalistic attempt to place the Creator at the center of Christmas. The Creator does belong at the center of Christmas, but does he belong at the center of an unexciting and uneventful Christmas? I don’t think he does (I found “Christian Christmas Grinches” a helpful article on this). My hope is to combine the two, delighting in the Creator’s grand creation and praising him and thanking him for the joy and merriment and activities that surround Christmas. I want my kids to know that Christmas is filled with joy and fun and that joy and fun finds its source in Jesus. So while in fun we sing, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” our fun finds it true source in the worshipful singing of “Joy to the World, the Lord has Come”. We are free to enjoy Christmas and all its blessings because the Christ-child has come and saved us and I want to be ready to enjoy Christmas in all its splendor. That is why every year I look for an advent reading. These advent readings remind me that all my joy this time of year is bound up in Jesus Christ.
This year I will be reading an advent from John Piper, titled Good News of Great Joy (It’s a free download from desiringgod.com). My community group will be studying the introduction and first reading next week, and I would invite you to join us.
The introduction asks, “What Does Jesus Want This Christmas?” and Piper goes to Jesus’ prayers to find the answer. A common belief exists that states God’s reason for creating man was loneliness. That God needed someone to be with him. Piper writes,
“Jesus is not lonely. He and the Father and the Spirit are profoundly satisfied in the fellowship of the Trinity. We, not he, are starving for something. And what Jesus wants for Christmas is for us to experience what we were really made for—seeing and savoring his glory.”
Jesus has given us the greatest gift – to know him, know his glory, know his greatness, and know his love, and in knowing, to enjoy what we know, love who Jesus is, and savor what we see in him.
This leads to the first reading, “Prepare the Way”. In this section we are encouraged to have a plan in place to (1) meditate on our need for the Savior, (2) prepare your heart for your Savior, (3) build excitement about your Savior, and (4) to be in God’s Word.
I have included the document I handed out to my community group. It contains the readings along with some Scripture passages and questions I added for application.