Advent has become a favorite time of year for me. I love it for many reasons, one of them being that it invites me to both look back & to look ahead. It is precious to look back all the way to the promises indicating the Messiah would come, and to treasure when he actually came. The rhythm of Advent year after year also encourages me to remember all the ways Christ has been God with us, with me.
These past 5 years our home has been in three different countries. A lot has changed for us from one year to the next. These changes have been sweet and hard and precious and a rich part of the tapestry of our lives.
Some years we have been able to go back to my home country and celebrate Christmas with my extended family and close friends there. Another year we had our two sets of grandparents visit us around the same time and we celebrated Christmas with all four of them. Feast.
Other years we have been far from family, we haven’t had many friends around and have not been able to get away on holiday. Last year Christmas day ended with me taking our feverish, coughing baby to the hospital. This year we have only been in this country 2 months, making it feel still strange and a little lonely. Famine.
As much as some things have changed, other things have stayed the same:
- Having friends over for our traditional Christmas Chocolate fondue
- Always looking out for those who don’t have family around so they can celebrate Christmas with us
- Watching Elf as a family
- Finding ways to incorporate Dominican Christmas traditions to our family’s celebrations
- Preparing for advent with our kids
Even as I treasure these memories (all of them, including the hard ones), I am treasuring the unchanging nature of God’s generous character even more. He is always extravagant. We don’t always experience his extravagance in the same way. Sometimes His provision feels like barely enough. But because God never changes, He is trustworthy.
The same God that gave us His Son and with Him gave us all things (Romans 8:32), is the God that is still for us in Christ. This child that was born for us is the King born to reign in us forever. He has given us all things that are necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
And so this holiday I trust in His unchanging generosity when I find my heart yearning: for home to feel like home, for rich life in community, and for yummy treats that I can’t eat because of health issues.
Treasures have a way of shaping our longings. My longings will never be fully satisfied in this life between the first Advent and Advent, the Sequel (as a friend of mine calls it). If we consider them rightly these longings are our friends. In Christ they become gentle teachers, teaching us how to long…who to long for.
In Christ, longings also teach us to expect fulfilment. They won’t be with us forever…their job is to point us to the One who is. Once He appears, longings will forever disappear. Then we will see with our eyes the depths of his riches and we will taste his eternal generosity.
Christ Himself will serve us a feast. For someone with lots of food allergies, I find great comfort in this. I won’t be limited in what I can eat (or drink). (I like to think the river of life is a deep river of chocolate fudge…. See? ChocolateTreasures have a way of shaping our wants…)
We will feel more at home than ever because we will finally be where we were created to be at home: the presence of our Father. We will live with Him and He will be among His people. Life in community will be rich.
Friend, how is your heart today? Does this holiday feel like you have been in famine more than feast? Trust His unchanging generosity to you in Christ Jesus. Remember His gifts of grace from year to year. Remember Him, your treasure. But most of all know this: He remembers you. Because He remembers us, one day we will be with Him in paradise, feasting on Him for all eternity.
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
This second verse has had me all weepy these last few weeks:
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne
What aspect of God’s character are you treasuring this Christmas? Is this your 1st or your 10th or ….? What things have changed for you over the past years? Which have stayed the same?