If you missed our video conversation, no worries. Here are a few things we talked about and resources we mentioned along with our prayers for a holiday season filled with the peace and joy of Christ!
What might this passage have to say to us as we think about heading into the busyness of the holidays?
Jesus isn’t saying that hospitality and service are bad. Afterall, the previous passage is the parable of the Good Samaritan which reminds us that costly, often inconvenient hospitality and care for others is what it looks like to love our neighbor. So, perhaps what he is saying is that there are times when all the good stuff we need or want to do must take a back seat to more important things — like sitting at the feet of Jesus.
The challenge, then, is one of discernment — which is what he takes up in the next section in Luke when his disciples ask him to teach them to pray.
Jesus’ own life was full of work and ministry and service to others. He spoke multiple times about finishing the work that God had given him to do, yet he was never harried or in a frenzy.
Perhaps the very act of sitting at Jesus’ feet gives us perspective and even the discernment we need to choose “the best thing” in the midst of a stressful and chaotic time.
For me, leaning into Advent and not rushing into Christmas has helped to slow me down and enabled me to appreciate the season a bit more.
Understanding the history of Advent and Christmas
The Church calendar is set up in such a way that it invites us to enter into the “Jesus story.” It begins with Advent. The word advent comes from the Latin adventus which means "coming."
During Advent, we remember the many years in which the people of God longed and looked for the coming Messiah. Readings for Advent center in the Old Testament beginning in Genesis with the promise of the “seed of the woman” and they end with John the Baptist — the last great Old Testament prophet who prepares the way for Messiah.
Following Advent is the celebration of Messiah’s coming: Christmas. In liturgical traditions, Christmas is celebrated for 12 days and ends on January 6 with Epiphany, remembering the visit of the Magi and the global scope of Messiah’s rule.
Advent is a season of longing and waiting and entering into the “now, but not yet.” Salvation has come to us in Christ, but we wait for the final consummation of all this means. We inhabit a time of waiting and longing for the final coming of Messiah at which time we will celebrate the wedding feast of the Lamb and God’s eternal shalom will be established for his people.
Just as Lent is a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter, Advent is meant to be a season of preparation for the coming celebration of Christmas.
Suggestions for Approaching this Holiday Season
- Resources at The Well
- Articles on the managing tricky relationships and complicated situations at the holidays. There are good suggestions in these even if your situation(s) are not exactly the same as in the article.
- Spotify playlist for your commute to work or while out shopping. “A (much more conventional) Advent Playlist”. (All the songs on this play list are for Advent, not Christmas.)
- Looking for Advent candles? They are here.
- Looking for something to do (readings and/or activities) with small children? Try this or this.
- A couple cookie recipes to make your life easier: quick and easy chocolatey caramel bark-type and no-chilling-needed cut-out sugar cookies.
- Tips on managing gifts and your budget.