Today begins week 2 of our family’s journey through Advent. The first Sunday in December is a busy one in our church. The Christmas Cantata is a big production: adult, children, and college choirs, musicians, pipe organ, and handbells (that’s us). The sanctuary glows with white lights and greenery. Already we’d had 3 morning services of traditional and contemporary praise and worship with carols and communion.
It was a wonderful, worshipful time, but I knew we’d all be tired by the evening. It was tempting to shorten our family night--or even move it--but what a loss that would have been.
Tonight’s theme was “concern for others” and our activity was to make cards for people with whom we want to share the joy and love of Jesus during this Advent season. My 2-year-old son wanted to make a card for a friend at school. He scribbled a picture, stuck on some stickers, signed his name, and danced around with his card--singing his friend’s name. My 5-year-old made his best friend “the best card he’s ever seen.” Bruce and I chose family members who are facing tough illnesses.
The most beautiful part of the evening was the time when we shared when each of us felt close to God this week. I wasn’t sure that the boys would understand the question, but DW got very excited. He called out, “We feel close to Jesus when we praise him!”
I reflected on the joy I’d felt this morning as the choir and congregation sang carols and songs of praise--telling and retelling the Christmas story and offering praise to God for the gift of salvation. Each song was like a present held out to Jesus--”Master, open this one!” At the time I’d wished I could bottle up that closeness to save for later. My son reminded me that I don’t have to. Just praising brings me close to my Lord all over again.
I pray this week that I will have a child-like heart, that I will offer praise to Jesus with the full assurance that he is close. Emmanuel. God with us.