In third grade, I was cast in the highly coveted role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, for the school Christmas program. I attended a Lutheran school from kindergarten through 8th grade, and every year, the Christmas program was a big deal. For weeks on end, we gathered in the sanctuary to practice our lines and songs, until the big day when the creaky, wooden pews were filled with parents, grandparents, and church members who came to witness what we prepared.
Walking up the long red, carpeted aisle, Eric, the blonde boy who played my husband, and I made our way to Bethlehem in the middle of the stage. In a white gown with a blue sash over my head, I sat down on a bench with Joseph standing next to me. I was nervous; all eyes were on me, until one by one my classmates stepped on the brown stool behind the white marble pulpit, strained to reach the microphone and read Luke chapter 2, the story of Jesus’ birth, verse by verse.
Little voices stumbled and cracked over the words as they announced the moments leading up to Jesus’ arrival. Joseph and I acted out the story and found our place in the stable when a small, high voice read my all-time favorite line in the story.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
In the scheme of life my role as Mary was just a blip on the radar, yet it was monumental because every time I hear Luke 2:10-11, I am transported back to this memory and reminded of the awe-inducing story of Jesus’ birth.
In the busyness of the holiday season today, we often lose sight of the magical story of Jesus’ birth. The focus is so heavy on the shopping, planning the parties, attending the events, that Christmas can easily come and go before we’ve taken a moment to celebrate Advent.
What is Advent?
Advent by definition means an arrival or coming. In the life of Christ followers, it is the traditional practice of celebrating the anticipatory time leading up to Jesus’ birth. The season begins the first Sunday in December (today) and lasts four Sundays leading up to Christmas – each day meant to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of His arrival.
Celebrating Advent draws our focus off the craziness of the holiday (the shopping, the parties, the presents) and onto the reason for the season, Jesus’ birth. The practice itself takes on many different shapes and forms. Within the church, some themes often associated with the Advent are hope, peace, joy, and love. But for our study, we are going to focus on how Jesus’ arrival brought rest.
What does Advent have to do with rest?
When Jesus came as a baby in a manger, peace was ushered into our world. Through God’s ultimate gift —Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—we receive rest for our weary souls.
This is the heart of A Restful Advent – together we are going to find rest by shifting our focus to Jesus.
About the series
For the next three weeks, each weekday (Monday – Friday), I will share a devotional designed to lead you to rest.
Each one will focus on a different aspect of rest, but the format will remain the same—scripture, story, and a practical way for you to practice rest. There will also be extra resources shared from time to time in order to help you pursue rest outside of the devotional.
Brooke Bohinc, Megan Meyer, and Tabitha Panariso will be jumping in for a few devotionals. Each of these women have been examples to me in living lives that practice rest. I cannot wait for you to hear what they have to say to encourage you.
A Restful Advent kicks off tomorrow!
I am beyond thrilled and honored to celebrate Advent with you through this series. My prayer is that you would walk away feeling better connected to Jesus and with an increased ability and desire to make rest a priority.
Want to get into the spirit today? Hop over to Spotify and follow my A Restful Advent playlist. It’s a mix of worshipful Christmas songs and a few songs I will be challenging you to listen to as a part of a couple devotionals.
See you tomorrow, sweet friends!