Saturday, November 15, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NAS)

Countdown to ChristmasEvery year, about a month before Christmas, many active Christians around the world would begin to prepare for the season of joy and celebration of the Lord's birth. This nearly month long preparation for Christmas is called the Advent, and often includes church activities, choir rehearsals, prayer meetings, carol practices, and more.

Advent, according to SwissWorld.org, "is the period beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve, historically seen as the preparation of the arrival of Christ. During the 19th century in particular, this waiting period before Christmas was viewed as a way of teaching children patience before a reward—hence the development of the Advent Calendar, a calendar with 24 little flaps opening onto windows with images within a Christmas scene." Each day, a date in the calendar will be opened to count the remainder days before Christmas, and this is often done with joy and excitement, looking forward with anticipation, yet patiently waiting for the day to celebrate the birth of our Lord.


Much like the way the Advent calendar works, all of us as Christians should also live our lives with joy and excitement, looking forward with anticipation, yet patiently waiting for the day of our Lord's return.

Traditionally, some families countdown the 24 days of Advent by marking each day with a new candle or hanging a little religious picture on the wall each day. In this modern age, however, Advent calendars are available digitally on the Internet and all we need to do is simply search for Advent calendars to find a site that provides a 24 day calendar with the dates covered that can be opened by the visitor progressively day by day to countdown to Christmas Day.

Long before this tradition, however, many Jews were already counting down to the day our Lord was to be born. Isaiah and many other prophets in the Old Testament foretold of the Lord's coming long before He was born on earth of a Son who was to be given to us, and whose name is the Mighty God and Eternal Father (Isaiah 9:6). Many had waited for His arrival, yet when He finally arrived and came to His own, His own failed to recognize Him for who He was and did not received Him, the Promised One of God (John 1:11).

This season, therefore, as we busy ourselves preparing for Christmas, let us ask ourselves, are we too busy counting down to the day we will celebrate the Lord's birth that we fail to receive Him when He visits us (John 1:11)? Are we like Martha who was too busy with her preparation to recognize what was truly important (Luke 10:38-42)? If we fail to recognize the Lord while busying ourselves with the preparation, then we are not much different from the non-believers. Even those who do not know the real reason for the celebration, busy themselves to prepare for Christmas each year with the buying of gifts, decorating of homes, offices, shopping malls and Christmas trees, cooking and baking special delicacies for grand feasts to welcome the winter festivities.

Teach us, therefore, O Lord, to stay focus on You when preparing for this joyous occasion to celebrate Your birth on earth. Help us Lord go through the Advent with understanding of the true purpose and meaning of this season. Do not let us, O Lord, be caught up with the activities and festivities to fail to recognize what is truly important. Still our hearts Lord to be patient as we look forward in anticipation for Your return and bless us O Lord in all we do for the Christmas season.

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