Are you ‘looking forward’ to Christmas?
That question is not always an easy one to answer, even for Christians. For some of us, Christmas is a time that brings back difficult memories, or forces us to confront complicated relationships. For others of us, there is so much going on in December that the mere thought of Advent and all the build-up to Christmas makes us tired! Of course, this year Christmas will be different for many of us, as we may not be able to travel to visit our loved ones.
That can be true in churches too. When I worked for a busy, city-centre church in Oxford, there seemed to be an endless round of services, outreach events, and children’s parties, all of which left me quite exhausted by the end. It’s not that it wasn’t all worthwhile. Good ministry was done: the gospel was proclaimed and both believers and non-believers were reached by it. But in a season like Advent, I need to be all the more sure to take time out each day to reflect, to pray, and to hear the gospel myself. I recognise that I need to be spiritually filled before I can pour myself out in any kind of useful service to others.
Of course, these dynamics of listening and praying before we serve God and others should always be part of our Christian lives. But the special season of Advent is a great opportunity to refresh our commitment to personal devotion. Or perhaps to make a new start.
To try to help with this, I've put together a series of video devotionals, one for each day from 1 December to Christmas Eve. I'd like to invite you to join in!
A distinctive feature of the devotions is that each one is based on a popular Advent or Christmas carol. I hope this approach will enable us to lift up our voices as well as our hearts to God this Advent.
You can find out more about the series in the video below, or by clicking on "Comfort and Joy!" in the menu bar on my website.