A few years ago, when I started observing the Advent season, in typical me fashion, I went all in. I discovered the poetry of Luci Shaw, Malcolm Guite and Scott Cairns. I purchased more than one Advent devotional. I wrote piece after piece to encourage others to join me on this journey. I read the passages leading up to, and including the Advent story. It was so good. I was thirsty for this new-to-me way to encounter Jesus. It was as if I was a nomad entering an oasis on a camel, after a long time in the desert.
This year, God asked me to lay these things down. See, I love words. A beautifully crafted sentence, especially those mastered by a poet, can lead me straight to the manger. But God assured me, I would still find him without a book, without a song.
The manger. That's where God wanted me to be this December. In a sense, naked, without a book in my hand, and admittedly this is hard for me. I did use Advent cards I'd purchased from a friend. In this set, she considers the Christmas story, and offers one thought each day for reflection.
Here's today's reading, "For a long while, there is only hope. But then, the pain starts. The coming asks something of us."
There are many ways to experience Jesus, and I forget that when my nose is always buried in a book. Even when that book is the Bible.
In the next few days, I'd encourage you to ask God to show His Son to you.
Read the Christmas story in Matthew or Luke slowly. Twice. Place yourself in that story. What would go through your mind if you were Mary, Joseph, the Innkeeper, etc?
Find a poem or a short article that focuses on the Nativity scene in Bethlehem. Again, don't read it just to finish it. Soak in the truth that this little baby was God, sent for us.
Attend a Christmas Eve service, and sit in silence for at least a few minutes. Watch the candles burn.
Give. Something unexpected that asks something of you. Ask God what that might be.
Listen to a song, by yourself, taking in every single word of the lyrics. This one came to mind, A Strange Way To Save The World.
Spend time in prayer, a Bible or a journal on your lap. Jot down the thoughts God shares with you.
Maybe, like me, you need to stop. Quiet your mind and your heart, and look straight on at the manger. No words, no songs, just sit before the Nativity, and let the truth wash over you as if for the very first time.
We won't find Jesus among all the presents we exchange. They are fun, and God smiles on our family time, but they don't lead us to the manger. Take a few minutes to step away, and dwell with Jesus.
I wrote this prayer last year for my readers. It's as true on New Year's as it is these next few days of Christmas celebrations. I want you to have a "God Christmas."