An Advent Invitation

Not one candle has been lit this month. Not one.

It is Advent. The time to prepare the heart for the birth of the King. The babe who will become the Savior. The one who redeems us all.

And still, no candle.

The Advent wreath stares me in the face every day. It sits in my line of sight as I come and go through the front door.

Mocking me? No

Sad and lonely? Maybe

Forgotten? Never

I glance at it now and even though I can see the entirety of my Advent and Christmas decor sitting there all neat and tidy, that set of candles just stares back at me.

As if I took it out of the box with intentions, and neglected it.

As if I sat it up next to the calendar with the drawers, papers of years gone by activities we would do with our children still tucked away in them, haphazardly with no intentions of using it.

As if I could change the past and start December over again.

But, no, December is coming and going so fast, it may just get a speeding ticket.

I look at the nativity set sitting on the shelf right next to the Advent calendar, a reminder of the reason for the season.

Yes, Jesus came as a babe in a manger to a frightened, but blessed, young girl and her husband not fathering him but accepting him all the same.

Who wouldn’t accept the Savior?

There it is.

Plenty of people would accept the babe in the manger.

But the man on the cross? In a tomb? Risen from the dead?

That’s a different story.

That man requires something we are not willing to give up.

Self.

Just as I come to it, the feeling overwhelms me.

Just like that candle set sitting unlit, week after Advent week, so sits my prayers, my quiet time in the Word.

The room sits quiet and respectful. Cozy. Warm lights on the Christmas tree and mantel garland are the only lights in the room.

Poinsettias decorate the fireplace.

Exterior Christmas lights light up the yard as their timer clicks on.

There’s a certain reminder here if I listen to it closely.

Nothing was right about that coming.

No room in the inn.

Nowhere for out of towners to sleep, much less give birth to a baby.

No bed.

No decor.

No room service.

Just a manger and some hay.

No one worried about the candles being lit, or the tree being perfect.

No one concerned about the holiday menu or the guest list.

The first guests were invited by God Himself.

Shepherds. Of all the people He could have invited to his birthing party, Shepherds were the chosen ones.

And there it is – again.

The invitation.

The manger scene, with its tiny baby in the center, is the gift that is wrapped up for you and me.

We get the things mixed up.

It is easy to do, so do not feel bad if you are like me and you missed it at first.

The gift, the light, the coming of the babe…

That is the invitation.

Lose self, gain heaven.

Lose the self-serving ways we have adopted to honor the King, and just honor the King.

Just sit with Him.

Thank Him.

Choose Him.

Hold Him if you must.

He is come, many years ago. We remember it this Christmas Day and we are grateful for the reminder.

But do not miss it.

The babe is a babe no more.

He brings all of heaven with Him now when He reaches down to one of us.

Give Him your life and He will be your life.

Give Him your heart and He will be your heart.

Give Him yourself and He will be who you never thought you could be.

No candles required.

Just you.

And that is what this season is all about.

If the tree is not lit up, or the Advent calendar sits empty, if you have not prayed a prayer, or opened your Bible, the invitation is always there.

For both of us.

And just because it did not look perfect, or the way we would have wanted it to look, the invitation will never be taken from you.

Or me.

Happy Christmas.

Amen.

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