here) - Title -God Is With Us
Today begins the Advent season here in the Hassoldt home.
I’m going to share a little secret with you...it’s a little shocking, but we did something three years ago that we have never regretted since...
we stopped celebrating Christmas. Yep, stopped...completely...no gifts...no tree... no commercial craziness...nothing;
except a little candle and a Bible Story.
Why did we do it? We weren’t completely sure ourselves...we just felt absolutely sick and tired with the “over-much” of it all that we saw around us, sadly, especially among the Church of God. The expectations, expenses and decorations were killing us. The “perfect” holiday was sucking the life right out of us.
In a sense, we tore down the whole “Christmas thing”, even the “good” Christian ones. Have you ever considered how many “idols” are put up during the Christmas season? Many things, even good ones, can become an idol that replaces our love, worship and devotion for the only True God. At the time, I didn’t realize how many traditions, expectations, and good ideas were competing with the Real Meaning for the season.
Please know right now, this is just what WE FELT WE were suppose to do and that in no way do we judge how any one else celebrates their holidays. It’s just what we needed to do to escape from the craziness that has become a part of this season and get out of the “holiday fog” that had engulfed us. I felt sick to see on the news today that not only do we have “black Friday”-the Friday after Thanksgiving, but now we have “cyber Monday”. Really!!! This is ridiculous!
I began to look in the Bible, pray and ask the LORD what we are to do to honor this precious Biblical event and historical moment in our Christian faith. After these three years Steve and I feel ready to “re-build” our Christmas. The Nativity story begins in Luke with these precious words from Gabriel to Mary “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28). That is the 1st thing that I want to teach my children...that the LORD is with us! Yesterday, today, tomorrow, this Truth is always! Next, I want them to know that the Babe that was born is Holy-the Son of God (Luke 1:35). This Truth will be the anchor of their faith for the rest of their lives. The angel tells Mary something else very important to remember as we anticipate the coming of our LORD...”For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).
Another thing that I want to show my children (and remind myself of ) from the Nativity story; Mary’s response to the Good News is what I want to say to my LORD each day - “Behold, I am the servant of the LORD....” (Luke 1:38). Next in the story is a very important word - “believed” which is found in Luke 1:45 spoken by Mary’s cousin Elizabeth “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the LORD.” Has the Lord spoken something to us that we need to believe as we wait to see His fulfillment?
The Nativity story continues with Mary’s song of Praise in Luke 1:46-55. Ohhh, there is so much in the Nativity story sweet family and friends. So much that we might be missing as we scurry about with trees and lights. Let’s stop and linger and praise Him.
Other things that I want my family to see and celebrate from the Nativity story is praising the LORD like the angels did in Luke 2:13 and giving Him glory as in verse 14; to wonder at the things told by the shepherds as others did in Luke 2:18 and to treasure and ponder what we have seen as Mary did in verse 19. Also I want our family to return to our work at the end of this season glorifying and praising God for all that we have heard and seen as the shepherds did in Luke 2:20.
As a family, we will begin our time of remembering the Nativity with Advent - lighting a candle, reading the Bible Readings for each day of the Advent season and singing a song. We do not give gifts to the children for Christmas...they get gifts for their birthdays. We do not want to take away from the real GIFT of Christmas. No competition for My LORD!!! We want to remember, celebrate, honor, and give praises to Him and Him alone. At some point during the next 4 weeks we will have a special “Nativity Celebration” with some fun finger foods for the children, nativity stories and we make sugar cookies (cuz, the children love to make sugar cookies!!!! Who doesn’t!). I want to make this time special and fun for the children. However, my main purpose during this season is to teach my children and remind us all that the real Nativity story shows us how to respond, surrender, rest, believe, praise, ponder, treasure and glorify the One Who came to BE WITH US.
Blessed Advent to you and your family!