What is that old saying...Christians aren't perfect just forgiven? Well, that's kind of the way I feel as a missionary right now. No, not as a missionary. Really as a parent.
Every year I try to do something special as a family for Thanksgiving and for Advent. I want my boys to know the real story behind Thanksgiving and not the watered down, revisionist, public school version. I want them to remember the real meaning of Christmas among all of the decorations, business, and secularization of the holiday. For Thanksgiving I always read accurate stories of what happened with the pilgrims and indians. For Christmas I always try to celebrate Advent, the days leading up to Christmas, in a special way. A couple of years ago we actually had Advent candles that we lit along with an Advent story and craft. One year I made them each an advent calendar. This year, I found a great 25 day Advent devotional called A Jesus Advent Celebration written by Ann Voskamp. Ann, who blogs on A Holy Experience, takes us on a journey through the Old Testament as she reminds us of how everything in the Old Testament prepares us for the birth of Christ. After each wonderful devotional, there is a beautiful ornament that you print, cut out, add yarn and hang on your Jesse Tree.
Jesse what? Jesse tree:
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. Isaiah 11:1-3
Of course this passage is talking about Jesus. Jesus came from the line of Jesse, David's father but the analogy goes much deeper than that. As Ann explains, we are like stumps. We have sinned and, just like a fallen tree, we have been cut off from God. But we can live again. A Saviour is coming! We are counting down the days and, as we do, our Jesse tree is becoming more full.
So, what is my problem? Why am I saying that I'm not perfect? Well, it seems that the holiday season always makes me reflect on God and family. It urges me to be a better father and spiritual leader in my home. That's why I try to have Thanksgiving and Advent devotionals. Unfortunately, my good intentions don't bear much fruit the rest of the year. My children aren't used to sitting down for even 10 minutes each evening to devote some time to the Lord. Hence, we always have some problems. Oh, it's to be expected. Joshua's medications are wearing off by that time and it is always close to Jacob's bedtime. Still, though, I should be more faithful, and, therefore, my children may get into the habit of evening devotions as a family.
You would think that it would be easy for a missionary family to have some family time with the Lord. After all, we are missionaries aren't we? We should be used to this. Yes, we are missionaries, but all missionaries are Christians. And, what is that saying that I eluded to above? Christians aren't perfect...just forgiven. Well, I'm sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but I'm not perfect. As much as I try I don't have nightly devotions with my family year round.
But, this year is a new year. It's a new holiday season. Perhaps Ann Voskamp's Advent devotional will lead to better things. Please pray with me that it will. In the meantime, it's never too late to start an advent tradition with your family. We didn't begin on the first day, so for the first few days we doubled up on the short devotions (less than 5 min. each) until we caught up. You can still download and enjoy A Jesus Advent Celebration this year with your family. It's free to download! Just go to Ann Voskamp's blog by clicking here - A Holy Experience - and you will find instructions on how to download this great ebook. Hopefully you too will start a lasting tradition with you family this glorious season. Enjoy!