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Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone we find ourselves in the season of Advent as we prepare for Christmas and the coming of Christ. For me and maybe a few of you as well, the beginning of Advent is the indicator that it is okay to put up the tree and deck the halls with boughs of holly but the truth of the matter is that Advent is so much more than just decorating and preparing for Christmas. Advent is not just the few weeks before Christmas that we celebrate at church, it is not a time we can overlook and jump right into Christmas. Advent is so much more, it is a time of reflection and reconnect with the true meaning of Christmas. It is a reminder of the promise of Christ the savior and a time to humble our hearts to receive the gift of God in the form of a baby in the manger.

As a child, I remember celebrating Advent at church and being filled with excitement for the coming of Santa Claus because I knew his arrival came with gifts and lots of yummy food. Even in my teenage years, I looked forward to the season because I knew it meant time off from school and time with family. Now that I am an adult the joy of Christmas still remains but it is not because of any tangible gift I will receive but the ultimate gift that God gave us when He sent His son to earth. I know love and look forward to the season of Advent and Christmas because of what this time of year truly means. The gift that God gives us is far better than anything we can receive because this gift ensures that we are God’s chosen ones and that we can live with Him forever.

What is Advent and why is it important? Advent and the Christmas season is a time for us as Christians to remember the coming of Christ and to reflect on the importance of His birth. Advent is not just for remembering and celebrating the birth of Jesus but also a reminder of the promise that He will come again to bring us to our rightful place in eternity. Advent is the celebration of the began of Jesus’ story and our story of redemption. As we celebrate the first coming of Christ we should also be preparing our hearts for His second coming. This means taking the time to evaluate our conduct and aline our hearts with God’s heart. It means making the choice to draw closer to God instead of pushing Him further away. Showing kindness and grace in the busiest season of the year.

We must also remember what Luke 21:34-36 says, “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” We know that the day will come when Jesus returns and we must stay alert and be ready for that day. We must not let the world dull our hearts into thinking that we can do whatever we please whenever we like and still be pleasing to God. Living in that way is not pleasing to the Lord and it can cost us our eternity. In my many years on this earth, I have found that Christmas is filled with a lot of stress that takes our focus off of God, as well as parties in celebrations that can lead to a path that can be concerning. I encourage you to not let this season turn into a stumbling block in your faith but a building blocks in your relationship with the Lord.

Finally, I urge you to remember the real reason behind the season. Remember that Christmas is one of the most important times of the year but not because we give and receive presents and spend time with family but because Christ came into this world and gave us the ultimate present, which is His presence in us. Without Christ coming into this world, we would be homeless and hopeless. If God didn’t send His son into this world as a child He would have never grown up to be the man that was slain for our salvation and saved us from our sins. Jesus is the man who dies in order to provide us a way for us to become the beloved children of God.

This Advent season I challenge you to open up your hearts and your minds to the real meaning of the season. Recognize that the season is not about gifts, food, or decorations. The season is about the ultimate gift that God has given us and how we can share that gift with everyone around us.

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