My son looked out our living room window on Thanksgiving, after the sun had set. Our neighbors have started putting up Christmas lights, and when he saw them, he said, “I think it looks like Christmastime!”
The next day, he insisted we needed to wear Christmas hats while we decorated, and both of my kids wore Christmas hats as we went to one store on Black Friday. We all donned Christmas hats as we went to see a light display that evening. I think my toddler may be starting a new tradition, and I love it.
There is something so comforting, grounding, and nostalgic about traditions, especially for Christmas. My mom’s family has playing Bingo for prizes on Christmas Eve as a tradition that began generations ago and has continued on through the years. The prizes range from random snack foods to fun gadgets to bottled coffees to the always wished for gift cards. We all envy the one person who seems to win every game, despite the Bingo cards changing each round, and we feel sorry for the one person who inevitably loses more than anyone else.
When I was around 6 or 7, my mom started another Christmas Eve tradition: gingerbread house building. My houses were not very structurally sound for the first few years, and my siblings decided I was a garage builder. It’s only recently that I’ve escaped from their mockery and have proven my gingerbread house building abilities.
Another Christmas tradition my mom started was observing Advent. Starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving and continuing to Christmas Eve, my parents and all six of us kids would gather around the dining room table with a Christmas cookie or some other treat, maybe some hot chocolate, and sometimes a game or craft, and we’d take turns lighting the candle(s) and reading that week’s Bible passages. This is one tradition that I’ve already continued with my toddlers, and this year, I’d like to share it with you!
The first Sunday of Advent focuses on hope.
Right after the first man and woman sinned against God, He began to reveal His plan to redeem the people who had just broken His law. In Genesis 3:15, God spoke of one of Eve’s offspring who would strike the head of the Serpent. He said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”” For centuries all of creation lived in expectant hope for that day.
Two thousand years ago, the One who was promised to strike the head of the Serpent was born, and now we live in hope for His return and eternity spent with Him. One day He will wipe away every tear, He, the Prince of Peace will reign over us, and we will be with Him forever.
In a year of unknowns, change, anxiety, isolation, division, loss, and so much more, I am so thankful for the hope we have in Jesus. Unlike the ten months (and counting) I have hoped for a positive pregnancy test only to be disappointed, hoping in Jesus will not leave us disappoint. One day, we will not be plagued with sickness, infertility, cancer, or death. One day the Body of Christ will be with our Bridegroom, and we will be of one heart and mind. My heart yearns for that day.
Knowing that what we are now facing pales in comparison to the joy that day will bring makes my trials and sorrows seem more bearable. Knowing I have hope brings light to the dark days because they are temporary.
How does this hope change your present? How does this hope change you?