A Christmas Anthem

Follow  @jmcpeak  for her hand-lettering series on the Advent season.

Follow @jmcpeak for her hand-lettering series on the Advent season.

Advent; the Sundays leading up to Christmas day are sometimes the only few moments in the Christmas season we realistically sit down and memorialize the gift of Jesus Christ. However, advent should be a season - more than just a few Sundays or moments of quiet time. Advent should be an attitude - more than a few acts of charity and serenity.

I realize I often get caught up in the to-do’s of the Christmas season: the never ending shopping, wrapping, mailing. My schedule becomes event after event. Seldom, do I ask myself “how is this gift (or event) going to help me remember the significance of Christ’s birth?”. Rarely, do I sit and pray before wrapping a gift asking God to bless the person receiving it.

While my heart is to love people well, my thoughts and actions often become too transactional - ok, what’s next on my list? I find myself getting caught up in the action; forgetting the heart.

This morning, I entered church with open hands (as I typically try to do) but with a busy mind: “what will I accomplish during Joshua’s nap today?” “who haven’t I checked in with lately?” “what do I need to prepare for the week to come?” Service opened with prayer and invited us all to repent and prepare our hearts for the next hour. Here is some of what I prayed and I hear myself pray every week during this point in the service:

Dear Lord, I know I have strayed from your presence this week. I know I didn’t live for you in all of my thoughts and actions. But God, all I really want in this life is to live for and with you. My flesh is so weak and has pulled me off track so many times. Lord, hear my heart - I want you. I need you. Please forgive me. Give me the discipline and strength to love and honor you better this week.

My heart was ready, my mind was slowing down. Next came a worship song that really helped give me the deep perspective my spirit so desperately needed.

“And He shall reign forever and forever”

We sang this over and over probably for two minutes. With each anthem, it sunk down deeper and deeper.

He is greater than my marriage, my son, my family, my future, and all that is within me. He is greater than it all.

“And He shall reign forever and forever”

He has lived my sufferings, He has carried my sin, He knows my deepest insecurities.

“And He shall reign forever and forever”

I can trust Him. I can let go. I can live in the freedom that God so lovingly gave us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Joy unspeakable joy - that is what I feel, friends when I repeat this anthem in my spirit. When I proclaim it out loud it becomes truer and truer with each breath.

Our Pastor (Pastor Dave at Grace Bible, Killeen, TX) so boldly reminded me - “if you want your joy, hope, fulfilment, and identity to lie in Jesus Christ you have to fervently pursue Him.” I have to fervently pursue Him. That means conditioning my heart through my day-to-day activities to seek God. I have to find a way to live with the advent spirit every single day. If I want to do something about the state of my heart - if I want to live differently - I have to press forward.

Immanuel, literally meaning “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23) has already been wrapped and given to each of us. Have you opened that gift? As I reopen that gift during this season I am nudged to love my savior more fervently.

“And He shall reign forever and forever”

Over it all.