Glad Tidings or Season of Stress?

If Christmas is about the advent of Jesus Christ, the time when we remember our Savior was born, why do many find it to be so stressful and difficult? It’s because there’s a battle going on for our hearts and minds. Author Paul Tripp’s recent post captures this brilliantly: Warning: Christmas is Coming!

Here’s what he says:

“It’s coming. The signs are already appearing, and you should consider yourself warned. Your family is about to be attacked. No, it won’t be the physical attack of terrorism, a hurricane, or a forest fire. No, this attack is much more subtle, seductive, and attractive, but infinitely more dangerous.

“Your family is about to be attacked by a holiday season.

“Maybe you’re thinking, What in the world is Paul Tripp talking about? Let me explain.

“The Advent season is upon us. It should be a gloriously peaceful time of remembering God’s ultimate response to his lost and rebellious image-bearers. That response wasn’t to condemn, but to give the ultimate gift of grace—the gift of himself—in the person of his Son. But instead of a peaceful season of worship and celebration, Advent has devolved into a spiritual war with your family at the center.

“I have no problem with beautiful decorations, family feasting, or giving gifts. The Christmas season can be a time when families gather again, renew relationships, and express love for one another. But I’m concerned because there is a war for which story will define our children’s beliefs about who they are, what they need, and what their lives are about.

“Every human being lives out of the meaning of some defining story. The Advent season has become a battle between two stories—one seductive and attractive, but fundamentally untrue; and the other deeply humbling, but what every person everywhere needs.”

To discover his take on these two stories, and what to do about it, I encourage you to read the rest of his post here.

The Advent season, which leads up to our celebration of our Lord’s birth, has the potential to be a sweet and worshipful time, if only we can get a fresh view of the glory of the Lord revealed in Christ (Isaiah 40:5). One way to win this season’s battle for our hearts is to find a way to get Jesus front and center during this season. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Read the Gospel of John and follow the theme of glory from 1:14 to the end. If you read a chapter a day you can be done by the day after Christmas.
  2. Listen to good Advent music (Handel’s Messiah is a great place to start!) during your commute, while you’re making dinner, or whenever. Here’s a list of recent Advent albums and here’s a post linking to a Spotify playlist with 111 Advent songs.
  3. Use an Advent devotional. The Biola Advent Project can be delivered electronically each day and comes complete with Scripture, a poem, artwork, and a prayer. LifeWay publishes this one, which our Children’s Ministry suggests for families. Here’s another from Austin Stone Church that’s got 2 daily readings, one for personal use and another for family.
  4. Use an Advent devotional book. We’ve got three different ones in our bookstore. I’ve used Come Thou Long Expected Jesus for years and find a few pages in the morning to be a great way to get my focus on Christ.
  5. Come early on Sunday, ready to join the saints to sing the praises of King Jesus.

Mark Mullery

P.S. Got comments or questions about this post, or ideas for another one? Email me at .