Now Reading
Don’t Rush Through the Christmas Season

Don’t Rush Through the Christmas Season

I didn’t grow into a faith tradition that observed Advent. I stumbled into Advent later in life, but when I discovered this way of approaching the incarnation, it was love at first sight.

Maybe it is the contemplative side of me that enjoys unpacking things slowly, but the incarnation is such a big concept I just can’t digest it in a Christmas Eve and Christmas service. I need to slow down with a long onramp to prepare myself to receive Christ and the new thing He wants to do in our midst.

Advent, which means “coming or arrival,” is a season of hopeful anticipation as we await Christ’s coming. We can learn how to do this by looking through the rearview mirror at how Christ came in the beginning.

The birth narrative shows us that Advent is a gestation process. It is a season where, like Mary, we allow Christ to be formed in us as we await his coming. But as we will see, the way we go about this is often very different from the way our world prepares for Christmas.

The invitation to slow growth

While the holiday season is often all about hustle and bustle, Advent is an invitation to surrender our own desire for quick results in order to wait for God to ripen in us on his own time.

As we dig deeper into the Advent story, we see that God didn’t arrive in an instant. There was a long season of waiting, anticipation, and preparation for his coming. The people of Israel had been promised that a Messiah would come who would rescue them, yet they had to wait for centuries for this promise to be fulfilled.

As I mention in my book, “What if God’s promises need to be gestated over a long time to prepare us to receive them – like a pregnancy? What if it takes not just one lifetime but generations to receive the fullness of his redemption?”

If it’s true that God often prepares us for a promise through waiting, then what happens when we give into the cultural impulse to get quick results in a culture with two day shipping? If we are always in a rush, we miss the slow changes that God is doing on the inside to prepare us for his coming.

Advent is an invitation to slow down and wait.

We cannot rush this preparation process any more than we can rush the development of a child in the womb. Babies born before the proper time often arrive into the world with painful complications that hinder their thriving. Likewise, when we rush past the necessary stages of our own formation, we miss the slow work God is doing on the inside to prepare us to become who we were made to be.

So in Advent, against the impulse for hustle, we can choose slowness. We can intentionally posture ourselves with expectant waiting by trusting that what God does in the midst of slow growth is worth the wait.

The invitation to emptying

The holiday season is also known for the ways we fill ourselves and our homes with food, decorations, and gifts. While the holidays are often about filling, Advent is all about emptying. Like a mother whose body shifts to make room for her growing child within, we lean into the process of emptying in order to make room for Christ to come.

In Advent, we can allow Christ to shine his light on us and our world to reveal what lesser “messiahs” we have been filling ourselves with to numb the pain, loneliness, and despair.

Perhaps we fill ourselves with shopping to numb from the ache of loneliness. Or maybe we stuff ourselves with food in order to drown out our insecurities about our performance. Maybe under all the ways we fill our schedules with more activity, we really just ache for purpose.

Advent is an invitation to sit in the barrenness and emptiness of waiting in order to pay attention to those inner hungers of the heart and why we need a Savior in the first place.

As we do, we can ask God to empty us of lesser things so we can make room to receive the greatest thing — Christ himself.

The invitation into our humanity

During the Christmas season, we often experience extra pressure to meet the expectations of family or friends through perfect gifts, baking, or gatherings. Because of this, we may often feel stretched to extend ourselves beyond our limited time, energy, and relational capacity.

Yet, what I love about the Advent story is that God’s invitation to Mary, and to us, does not come with extra demands that force us to exceed the limits of our body. No – God chooses to come within the limits of our body as a vessel for his presence.

God didn’t ask Mary to ascend above her limits to become like Him as a transcendent God. Instead, He chose to descend to be like her as a limited human. In fact, when God invited Mary to host the Messiah, it meant that she would take on additional human limits by becoming pregnant. She would have limited lung capacity, energy, and physical abilities. Yet, this was not an obstacle to be overcome, but an invitation to embrace. And as she did, God did the miraculous through the limits of her body to birth something totally new.

In the midst of the impulse during this season to push our human limits to be like God – all knowing, all powerful, and present everywhere, we can choose to follow Mary’s example. We can allow Christ to be formed within us within the limits of our body. When we do, the world will see Him in the flesh.

View Comment (1)

Leave a Reply

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top

You’re reading our ad-supported experience

For our premium ad-free experience, including exclusive podcasts, issues and more, subscribe to

Plans start as low as $2.50/mo