Love at Christmas: Advent Series Part Two

nativityChristmas is a season filled with excitement, busyness, and noise. Greens and reds fill the stores, and twinkling lights adorn our homes.

It’s become a big and bright holiday – not at all associated with quiet, peace, or love.

We save the love stuff for Valentine’s Day. But … love came down on Christmas Day! At the birth of Jesus, our world received the greatest demonstration of love ever.

Imagine reframing and returning the Christmas season back to the season of love.

Our calendars might still be full, but our hearts and attitudes would shift.
Our homes may still be bright, but they will be filled with a better light.

As we move into the second week of advent, we are focusing on how much God loved the world to send His one and only Son to be born in the tiny, insignificant town of Bethlehem to fulfill the hope the ancient prophets foretold.

The Theme of Love on This Second Sunday of Advent

On the Second Sunday of Advent, some churches light what is known as the Bethlehem candle.

This candle symbolizes the journey to Bethlehem, where love entered the world.

As we spend time reflecting on Mary and Joseph’s journey, I challenge you to join in their anticipation.

In a moment everything changed,
On a silent night came the promised Child.
In a stable so humble and poor,
Unto us was born the Savior of the world.
Love came down,
hope was found.

– Kim Walker-Smith

Mary’s Servant Heart

God could have chosen any way for His Son to come into the world, but He chose to send Him as a helpless baby born like the rest of us through a young, humble girl.

Mary was not anyone special, but God knew her heart and willingness to serve.

Luke, the physician, reminds us of Mary’s humble answer to the angel’s message. “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled (Luke 1:38).”

Then, Mary carried the baby in her womb, gave birth to the Savior of the world, watched Him grow, and wept as He was crucified.

O’ Little Town of Bethlehem

In addition to carefully selecting a humble, unknown girl to be the mother of Jesus, God also chose a tiny, insignificant town for the birthplace of our Savior.

Bethlehem was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. God orchestrated miracle after miracle as Mary and Joseph obeyed Caesar’s edict.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.”
– Micah 5:2,4

As poet Mark Schultz penned,

Bethlehem, through your small door,
Came the hope we've waited for.
The world was changed forevermore,
When love was born. Hallelujah!

Mary, Did You Know?

We can’t celebrate Christmas without looking toward Easter.

It’s why the song “Mary, Did You Know?” is popular.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy
would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy
is heaven's perfect lamb?
That sleeping child you're holding
is the great I am.

The reason we say “love was born in Bethlehem” is because we are celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world.

The baby would grow up to be “heaven’s perfect lamb” and die on a cross for our sins so we may have eternal life and the right to be children of God.

We celebrate His birth because He met our greatest need with everlasting love.  

Suggested Ways to Continue Celebrating Advent Beyond the Blog

As you prepare your heart and mind this advent season, here are additional ways to draw closer to our Savior.

This week focus on the journey to Bethlehem and provide opportunities for you and your family to journey together alongside Mary and Joseph in the days leading up to Christmas. Live in and build anticipation just as Mary and Joseph did.

  • Read a children’s book about the journey to Bethlehem such as Tonight You are My Baby or The Crippled Lamb. No matter your age, children’s books are wonderful ways to reflect on the Bethlehem journey and can help you appreciate it in a new way.

  • Watch a movie about the nativity with your family. Movies are great ways of gaining perspective. The Nativity Story does a wonderful job of building anticipation for the coming King. For families with younger children, the animated film The Star is a great introduction to the journey to Bethlehem.

  • Set out a nativity set. After reading the Nativity Story, set out a nativity set in your home. It will help you and your family redirect your thoughts to God’s love throughout the busy season. Some families opt to move the figures closer to the manger each day to illustrate the idea of the journey.

    Fisher-Price Nativity Set $32
    Kurt Adler Nativity $60
    Deluxe Nativity $210

  • Collect baby items for those in need. As you reflect on God’s love this advent season, look for ways to extend that love yourself. For example, collect baby items for those in need that you wish Mary and Joseph would have had and take them to a pregnancy center.
    Here is a link to baby items on Amazon.

    The Breath of Life Center is a wonderful center on Long Island to help.