The holiday season seems to have digressed into a time of shopping, taking pictures at the mall, and spending way more money than many people have! This is not unique to the Christian faith, but to most of the United States and Canada, regardless of religious belief.

A few years ago, there was a Christian “boycott” of Starbucks for removing their Christmas words and images from their cups and signage, and replacing them with more holiday-neutral marketing concepts. The outcry of the American evangelical right demanded that they “put Christ back in Christmas.” Something similar to this happens every year in some part of the Western world—Christians demand that society caters to our ideologies.

There are a few issues with this…1-many self-proclaimed Christians give in to the pull of commercialization and spend more time and money preparing for the secular traditions of holidays than in preparation for Christmas; 2-some believers even try to impose secular notions of Christmas on the rest of the world; and 3-Christians are supposed to stand out from society, not blend in to it, and not make society cater to our traditions.

If Starbucks, or any other business, does not want to put Jesus-related slogans on their cups, fine! Why would they? The popular conflation of Christmas and capitalism has left a confusing notion of what the holiday means anyway. Christians everywhere during the holiday season should stand out from the crowd, not for boycotting coffee joints, but for actions of sacrificial love, humble service, and unmet unity.

In earlier times, and in liturgical churches today, a season of advent is celebrated, helping people prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmastime. Advent is more than just Lindt chocolates in a cardboard calendar—though I am in favour of chocolate! Advent is a beautiful time of preparation and reflection, moving through four aspects of faith: hope, peace, joy, and love.

Advent comes from a Latin phrase meaning, “to come to.” As we come to Christmas this year, let us draw nearer to Christ, moving through time intentionally, and passing through four weeks of preparation.

Together with believers all over the Earth, we celebrate marks of the faith, and the excitement of the coming of Jesus. Advent (when celebrated as liturgical preparation, and not chaotic commercialism), becomes a universal walk toward Jesus, a time of centring our hearts on God, with brothers and sisters all around the world.

So for the next four weeks, join me in considering the promises of a little baby from humble roots. Walk with me as I ponder hope, peace, joy, and love, in the fullest measure. Set aside the things that distract from single-mindedness, and instead move toward meaning.

For the next four weeks, I am going to have an Advent devotional available. And I pray that this will help you draw closer to the heart of God, and live out your faith richly. Each week, there will be a challenge accompanying the devotion that you and your family can participate in. I would love to engage with you throughout these challenges, and hear how they affect your holidays.

Are you in?

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