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I remember when I was a very young child my parents bringing me and my three siblings together on Sunday nights in December to light candles on a wreath and to talk with us about the Christmas narrative. One year as we sat down for the first week of Advent, I asked my parents, “Why do we have to do this every year?”
Sitting still for an entire fifteen minutes felt like quite the chore. But my parents gracefully used my restlessness to segue into a great explanation of the purpose of Advent. And despite my lack of appreciation as a child for commemorating Advent as a family, in hindsight of course I am
The beauty of the gospel is that God came to earth as a baby, in the form of Jesus Christ, who grew into a man and died to pay the price for the difference between what I am and what I ought to be.
thankful that the tradition of celebrating Advent was a part of several Christmas seasons.
Reflecting on Advent 20 years later, though, the idea of marking this season with the reminder of
anticipation of Jesus Christ feels so fitting. And it brings to mind a main thought that has been
emanating in my mind the last several days: the thought of why I anticipate the presence of Christ. Those same years during my childhood when my parents walked us through Advent each week, my siblings and I—just like any other kids—anticipated Christmas for one main reason: what we were going to receive under the tree. Our experience was like many others, in that for the weeks leading up to Christmas we’d try to guess what gifts were waiting for us, shaking wrapped boxes and wondering if Christmas would ever arrive.
There was excitement in the air, as inside our home and outside there were reminders of Christmas everywhere. And so in youth, the anticipation of celebrating the coming of God in the form of the baby Jesus Christ really culminated in the opening of presents on Christmas Eve or morning. It was all about what I was going to receive.
And yet in adulthood, while opening the gifts under the tree may be less of an adrenaline rush, in many ways I’m no different. I find I still anticipate the presence of Christ for what I get out of it. The voice in my head tells me that if I were just closer with Christ, He’d give me the things I want or I’d have the personality traits that I’m so desperate to acquire.
We could say that my motives in both youth and adulthood are impure, and we’d probably be right. But the biggest beauty in it all is that Christ has paid for all of my wrongs, including my wrong motives. And that means God doesn’t hold them against me, but chooses to draw near to me anyway and teaches me how to trust him when I can’t do that on my own. His faithfulness is not dependent on my lack of faith. The beauty of the gospel is that God came to earth as a baby, in the form of Jesus Christ, who grew into a man and died to pay the price for the difference between what I am and what I ought to be. That difference can no longer be held against me.
And so it is in this season of Advent that I celebrate the coming of Jesus, who made this reality. And I anticipate that Christ will come in my daily experience to make this reality in my soul more and more real.
And I anticipate the day when He comes to make all things new.
Ryan Jackson was born and raised in Tulsa and has lived in Fayetteville since 2008 when he started at the U of A. He joined Grace Church this year, and when not working enjoys physical activity, reading, and visiting with friends.