Thursday, December 13, 2012

Advent Reflections: What's at the Center?

This December, while we continue to prepare our hearts to celebrate Christmas, my family is also packing and unpacking boxes. Although we're not moving far, we will be in a new home very soon. This means new neighbors. A new commute. New surroundings. Once again, our Advent season of preparation is filled with change.

I'm thankful that, in the midst of change, old traditions can ground us, bringing comfort and peace. Last week we put up our Christmas tree and readied our house for this joyful season. As our kids placed the last few ornaments on the tree, I moved a few more boxes into the garage to make room for Christmas spirit. Our living room is now filled with lights, angels, Advent calendars, a well-adorned tree, and Christmas cheer. And in front of the tree sits a simple manger scene where Mary and Joseph behold the newborn King.

While packing a few more boxes last night, a beautiful thought captured my heart. As we continue to empty our house of stuff, visual reminders of the importance and relevance of Jesus have invaded our living room and our home. As we prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ's birth, the cards, decorations, and our Advent wreath are constant reminders of His presence among us. Our house has been emptied of stuff and filled with Christ!

This same process takes place in our hearts when we invite Christ to live there. We begin an intentional process to empty ourselves from everything that clutters our souls, hearts, and minds, and ask to be filled with the presence of Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is also what the season of Advent is all about. It's a wonderful time to recommit ourselves to a life of faith, trust, and obedient surrender to the One who came to save us.

As our manger scene now fills the space left by the clutter of boxes and stuff, so the presence of Jesus will fill us when we empty ourselves of what clutters us inside ... if we ask. Jesus fills all things in every way, as explained in this excerpt from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. This is my prayer for you and for me this Advent,

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, 
may give you 
the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, 
so that you may know Him better.  
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened 
in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, 
the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, 
 and His incomparably great power for us who believe. 
That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ 
when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms,  
far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, 
not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  
And God placed all things under His feet 
and appointed Him to be head over everything 
for the church, which is His body, 
the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way."  
(Ephesians 1:17-23)

May Christ remain at the center of our hearts and lives. And may His holy name be praised.
Dr Mari

* My devotional, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare, was published in November 2012! Spread the word to your friends and loved ones who care for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of others. The book will inspire, encourage, and empower them! Visit my author website for details.

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