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Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year! I love the colors, the music (which I will unashamedly play any time of year), and especially all the shiny and sparkly things! I call that my crow brain :D

Something I do not like is waiting. Long lines, being on hold, and even two-day shipping can seem to take forever! But in order to get to Christmas, I first have to... wait.

In the church year, we have more than one season of waiting. Right now, we are in the season of Advent - waiting for the birth of our Savior. Like the rest of Christianity, Advent is counter-cultural! This time of year we feel the pressure to rush and hurry. We have to map out the stores we need to make it to, plan our calendars in great detail so we don't miss any events or gatherings, make our gift list (and check it twice), and so much more hustling and bustling. We dash so fast past cutesy signs that read "Jesus is the reason for the season" - do we even see them anymore?? Advent invites us to slow down and contemplate the meaning of this special season.

In week one, we hear about hope and read Isaiah 9:2 and 9:6-7. God has been making promises to His people since He first created us, and the birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises God made through the prophets. Jesus is also our hope for the future! We are living right now in a season of waiting - waiting for the second coming of Christ (another promise).

Week two is about peace (Micah 5:2-5a). Would you say our world needs peace? I think so! We all need the Prince of Peace to transform our lives. In the midst of holiday anxiety, Jesus is the source of peace that I need to center myself on so I don't get lost in the chaos.

Then in week three, we are reminded to experience God's joy! Luke 2:8-20 shares the story of the shepherds abruptly interrupted night. How would you respond to a host of angels suddenly showing up, blinding you with their light and singing? Yikes! The first thing the angel does is assure the shepherds that they don't need to be afraid, and then he shares the "good news of great joy." And how did they respond? With JOY! They had been living in anticipation, so they ran to see their Messiah, then sang and danced their way back to the fields. Going to Jesus is the most appropriate time to run!

Week four is on love. God IS love, and Christmas is when He came down to Earth to teach us how to live His love. In Luke 1:26-28, Mary is told that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus. She knew what this meant - the plans she had for her life had to be sacrificed, and she would raise a son who would ultimately sacrifice his life for the salvation of the world. The love that God has for us is so great we can't fully comprehend it!

After four weeks of reflection, we finally make it to week 5 and the birth of Christ! The light of the world is now in the world. Jesus is our King, and our ultimate source of hope, peace, joy, and love. Be ready for Him to radically change your life and the lives of those around you!

Each week of Advent is an opportunity to reflect on the past and contemplate the promise of the future. Instead of dragging my feet and being frustrated when God is teaching me to wait, I want to use this time to reshape my perspective and refresh my relationship with my Savior. 

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