Changing My Focus – Advent 2012 – Days 1-2

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Advent 2012

So, like I said earlier, I have been seeing a lot of people posting about Advent.  I’ve heard the word every year at Christmastime, but like a good Southern Baptist, I’d never actually observed (is that even the right word?) Advent.  I always thought it was something that Catholics did.  You know, like Lent.  *wink*

But all the blog posts made me curious, so I did a little research and discovered that Advent meant “arrival” or “coming” and was simply a time of focused reflection on the coming of Christ.  Due to busyness (yet again), I had slacked off in doing nightly devotions with my son.  I decided that Advent would be a good place to start back up.  Plus, this is a good year to start some new traditions since it will be the first year with just the two of us.

Most of the Advent posts I looked at were geared toward little kids.  Neat, but not really suitable for a 16-year-old.  Thankfully, I found three great Advent reading plans in my YouVersion Bible app.

My son picked Carols: A Christmas Devotional for us to do together.  I’m totally not surprised by that, since he was in band for several years and loves music.  It takes a different carol a day for 25 days, picks a verse that goes along with it, and gives a short devo on the song origins and meaning.  Pretty neat.  Then, I’m doing Rediscovering the Christmas Season and Knowing Him By Name on my own.  I’m not sure yet which one (or ones) I will end up blogging.  It might change with the day depending on which one stands to me the most.  Some days it might be a combination of all three.

It may seem like overkill or overachieving or whatever, but I have realized this past week that I’m more stressed out and emotionally drained than I thought, and that I need to really dig deep into the Word this Christmas and focus on Christ and how He has blessed me rather than on my circumstances and how others have wronged me.

So, here’s my (abbreviated) catch-up summaries for days 1-2:

Rediscovering the Christmas Season – Day 1 – Luke 2:21-40

Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “arrival” or “coming,” and counts down the four weeks leading up to Christmas.  It is about refocusing our lives on Jesus.

The reading focused on Simeon and Anna and how they had spent their entire lives anticipating the coming of the Messiah.  They had focused their entire lives on Him, so they knew Him when they saw Him, even though He was just a tiny baby.  Their story reminds me of the fact that people tend to see what they are focused on.  If you focus on your circumstances and what you don’t have, then you will be miserable and unsatisfied.  If you focus on Christ and how He has blessed you, then you will have joy and be satisfied.  I don’t want to go into the Christmas season with discontentment and bitterness.  I want to experience the joy found in Christ and be amazed at what He did in order to make that joy available to me.

Rediscovering the Christmas Season – Day 2 – Matthew 1

Our pastor preached on Matthew 1:18-24 this past Sunday, which also “just happened” to be Day 2.  What a co-inky-dink.  Sometimes God cracks me up.

Day 2 focused on the lineage of Jesus and “how the weight of generations of expectations affected Joseph’s ability to step into such an awesome role” of being the earthly father God chose for His Son.  Joseph’s genealogy included kings and patriarchs.  All of the things he had learned about his family history and the coming of the Messiah were probably going through his mind as the angel was talking to him about Mary.

Anyway, I can’t even begin to think about what may have been going through Joseph’s mind.  I’m sure I can relate to what he must have been thinking and how he must have been feeling after he found out about Mary’s pregnancy and before the angel showed up.  Because, obviously, the only possible explanation was that she had betrayed him.  I know how that feels.  Trust me, there isn’t a word to describe the level to which that sucks.  Imagine someone ripping your heart out and running it through a cross-cut paper shredder while you vomit repeatedly.  That’s close.  For Joseph to be worried about Mary’s feelings and reputation is unbelievable.  I wouldn’t be wasn’t.  But then an angel showed up and gave Joseph the back story, and Joseph’s life would never be the same.  I would hope that I would react as Joseph did, and obey the angel without question.  But it would not have been easy for him.

God asked Joseph to do something that sounded ridiculous by human standards.  By going forward with his marriage to Mary, Joseph was opening the door for people to either ridicule him for marrying a woman who had cheated on him or accuse him of sleeping with Mary before their wedding.  It was seemingly a losing situation for him either way.  Because they definitely wouldn’t believe his story about an angel and Mary being pregnant with the Messiah.  Could he handle the ridicule and whispers?  Would he put his reputation on the line with hers?  Seems that would be a small price to pay in exchange for raising the Son of God.  His ways truly aren’t our ways.

This year I have had several experiences where I feel God has asked me to do something that seemed ridiculous.  The first was when He made it clear that this time I was to let my husband leave without a fight.  God clearly showed me that I would have to release him to choose his own way and make his own mistakes, and He would be with me no matter what the outcome.  And now I’m a single mom in the middle of a divorce.  Ridiculous, right?  But God has repeatedly showered blessings on my son and I, provided for us, and protected us.  The second was me volunteering to help lead a high school girls’ Sunday School class.  I’m 35, and I still feel awkward and out of place around teen girls.  lol  Some things never change.  And I’m pretty sure I’ve recently heard Him whispering another ridiculous something in my ear.  And it will also take me WAY out of my comfort zone.

But if it’s His plan, then there’s no safer place for me to be.

Has He ever asked you to do something ridiculous?  Follow the reading plan’s advice and make a plan this Christmas season to do something ridiculous that you know God wants you to do.

I’m linking up with Thorns and Gold to share Advent/Christmas posts this month. 

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14 thoughts on “Changing My Focus – Advent 2012 – Days 1-2

  1. Um, ditto. I never paid attention to all the Advent posts because I thought it was more of a Catholic thing to do. But this year, after seeing a great free Advent devotional at DesiringGod.org, I decided – why not? It’s not a “catholic” thing to pay closer attention to Scripture every day. And so far, I’m loving it. And wondering why I waited so long to observe Advent!

  2. I love that we evangelicals are finding beauty in the traditions of other Christian groups with whom we used to share a kind of enmity. Thank God for Catholics, and their celebration of metaphor–without it we wouldn’t have the church calendar, and Advent. I hope you and your son are truly blessed as you wait for Jesus’s coming this Christmas!

  3. Hi Nancy
    Growing up in The Reform Church in South Africa we also never celebrated Advent. I personally feel that at Pentecost our rises Lord came back to fill our hearts with the sweet Holy Spirit.from tyg

  4. I love your observation that we recognise Jesus when we are focused on him. There is so much richness in that.

    And it has been good to get to know more of your story. Man – you really have been through a lot this year… Praying that you would really know God as Emmanuel, God with you this season. Much love (and thanks for linking up!)

  5. Thank you for such a beautiful and honest posting. May God truly continue to bless you and your son this Christmas season.

  6. Pingback: Fear Not – Believer's Brain

  7. Pingback: What I’m Giving Up for Lent « Pilgrim Wanderings

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