Finding Grace During Advent

The Advent/Christmas season is a busy time. It seems like no one can escape the business of the season. Whether one’s schedule is filled with the ever-increasing number of holiday specials, visits with family, or parties and concerts are the culprit, there’s always something to do during Advent. Consumerism keeps finding clever ways to combat living simply and being content with all we have. With so many activities and marketers vying for our time, finding God’s grace during the season can be a challenge.

Don’t get me wrong. This is, as the song goes, the most wonderful time of the year. The parties are wonderful. I was talking to a neighbor the other day, and we agreed that we do not have to limit seeing one another to our annual neighborhood Christmas party. Yet, these parties are when we do see some people. The Christmas and Holiday concerts are fantastic. Recently, I saw the jazz legend Bela Fleck and the Flecktones in concert, and during the second set, they played some Christmas tunes. If you wonder how a jazz legend approaches Christmas music, imagine “The 12 Days of Christmas” in 12 keys and 12 time signatures—one for each day. It was amazing!

This time of the year brings excitement and wonder. With so much happening, how can we find the peace of Christ and God’s grace in it all? First, look for it. Inviting neighbors to a party was a joy-filled experience of seeing the people who live near me. Yes, some were curt. Yes, some were not home. Yes, not every conversation is life-giving. However, I can choose to focus on the one that was. That conversation, the one that was really rich, is the moment of grace.

Second, take time for your devotional life. Find a good Advent devotional. The Alliance of Baptists has published an Advent devotional called “Bringing Justice into the World” and it is available here to download, or you can pick up a printed version in the church office. There are also apps, like d365.org with its Advent devotional called “Following the Star.”

Third, pray. Every season is a good season to pray, but having a set period for a devotional goal can make it achievable. Saying, “I’m going to start praying more,” is not as clear as saying, “I will pray each day during Advent.” Or, “I will spend 5 minutes in silence, listening for God, during Advent.” Making prayer central to Advent will reveal the peace of Christ and God’s grace.

There are many ways to find a little more grace this season. Making an effort to look for it will yield fruitful spiritual growth. And, it might make the season a little more meaningful. I pray it does.

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