The Christ Child in the manger, He takes on the garment of fragile flesh to release us from being beasts of burden.
I think of this often, when I feel Christmas as a weight, burden that I’m sagging under for weeks. Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ.
Christmas comes to us like the Cross — asking nothing of us but embrace. So I lay down the expectations and the efforts, the perfectionism and performance, and I simply wait for His coming. His blood does all the work. He shed it to release us from burden — so we embrace a peaceful Advent…
Our Three Simple Practices for a Peaceful Advent
1. Light the Fire
When night falls early and the snow lies late, we light candles, we light the fire, we light hearts, with the flickering flame.
The season of Advent is about waiting and watching for the coming Light. A candle, a match — simple, inexpensive, unobtrusive — and we turn out the lights on the day’s creative mess and we light a light to see the light that dawns on those living in the land of the shadow of death.
Each night of Advent, we light the fire and answer Isaiah’s invitation to Come Behold, He who Comes.
2. Gather for Warmth
In a circle, in a halo of light, in a moment of quiet, we gather together around the lit flame, around the hearth, and the bodies press close and our breathing slows and we who are cold are kindled.
Even if only for a handful of moments, to light the fire, the candles, and collect each other close, like shepherds out on the hills gathered together in community, keeping watch over the flock by night. The warmth is in the gathering, in the waiting together.
3. Step into the Light
The humble wick lit and the day’s wanderers simply gathered close on laps and rocking chairs and pillows, we step into the Light — the Light of a few verses of Scripture; the Light of a few notes of song; the Light of few words of prayer. Choose one; choose all. Simply keep it simple: peaceful and without burden.
Before bed, before the flame, before each other, we step into the Coming Light.
- It may be a Scripture from our A Jesus Advent Celebration — every story unwraps more of His Love — a Jesse Tree Journey, (downloadable and printable here) a few words of reflection, and the hanging of an ornament.
- It might simply be a child slipping a hand into one of Grandma Voskamp’s knitted socks of the stocking advent calendar, pulling out one of the Advent Bible verses for the day, another child offering some thoughts, then a Christmas carol sung together.
- It might be a favorite Christmas storybook or picture book read aloud, toes snuggled under blankets and the shadows kept at bay with the dancing eyes.
Some nights, it might be all that and more — hot chocolate and popcorn and a sing-song — and some nights it might be but a moment and heads simply bowed in prayer. But each evening of Advent, to light the fire, to gather together for soul warmth, to step into His Light. That’s all.
No ingredients, recipe, paint, glue gun, glitter, decorations, ribbon or scissors (!!) required — just a simple candle, a hand to hold, a heart seeking its true Home.
For Christmas isn’t the making of a product; Christmas is the meeting of a Person.
Each evening of Advent — in candle light, in love’s light, in Jesus Light — we peacefully rest, for we have no Christmas to make or buy. We have only a Christmas to find.
And we simply — joyfully — find Christmas in Christ.