Advent Reflection #2: Fit For Us

It’s borderline distasteful how Christmas has become so central to our country’s economic health and our individual sense of worth. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for our economy recovering and each of us finding our worth. Yet there’s something backwards about what Christmas has become. With strange familiarity, we have blended consumerism into this time of the year….in the hopes of creating a season fit for us. Like the imprints left by our boots on a fresh blanket of snow (man, if only I were in Rochester right now), the landscape of this season is being shaped by our desires and our hearts. So what do we see each year around this time?

Well, not surprisingly, economics always seems to be involved in the conversation as we try to meet deadlines, get into the black and shore up our financial holes. Christmas registers high on the priority list of anyone in business, and the shopping of this season serves as the last measuring stick they have to determine how well their businesses faired in 2012.  Then, there are those Christmas gifts we’re either shopping for or anticipating. Recently, my wife and I had a conversation about the phenomenon of Christmas gift-giving. In short, it was a referendum on our souls. We noticed how quickly we were prone to fall into the trap of coveting that which we do not currently have. Or finding our identity in what we might or might not receive. Questions quickly surfaced: Why is it all about what we want? What does that reveal about our character? What is Christmas really about?

Then, when I woke up this morning, I ran across this verse. It’s a familiar one, something that I’ve memorized several years ago: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45). Classic words for this time of the year. What might it look like if we entered into this Christmas season as Christ entered this world? Not to be served, but to serve.

Maybe then we’ll see a season fit for the Servant-King. And maybe then, we’ll finally see a season fit for us – the way Christ calls us to love Him and love others.

Check out the Advent Conspiracy if you have the chance: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All

Partnering Organizations: Living Water International, International Justice Mission

advent conspiracy


Advent Reflection #1: Dishwashing

It’s humbling to know that Jesus, whose arrival two millennia ago came in the humble fashion of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, still comes to us in the ordinary and the mundane. This is the first year that I’m attempting to celebrate and observe Advent. I don’t particularly have a compelling reason to start now, except that I have witnessed God’s coming in so many ways leading up to the conclusion of 2012. As we celebrate Christ’s birth and patiently wait and hope for the Day when He comes to renew and restore all things, I hope these Advent reflections glorify God and encourage our faith.

One thing I’m growing to love about Advent is how it’s a time for us to celebrate how God shows up for his people. In my marriage, God has shown up in dishwashing. Yes, dishwashing! Here’s a little background: Growing up, I was the spoiled brat who loved using 10 cups a day. There was a cup for breakfast, a cup for afternoon snack, a cup for after the afternoon snack. You get the picture. But to the degree I unconsciously used cup after cup, I consciously hated washing them. I deemed dishwashing the worst of all household chores, and it was something that my brother and I left undone more often than not. My mom, being the gracious woman she is, washed those dishes day-in and day-out without complaint. It was her labour of love for us, her children, and through it, she modeled God’s sacrificial love for us.

Thankfully, I’m not that boy anymore. By His grace and especially since getting married, God has taken my brattiness and slowly transformed it into something that He molded in my mom so long ago – servanthood. Through the joyful crucible of marriage, He is putting to death my selfishness and raising up in me selflessness. He is teaching me that our marriage really isn’t about me. It’s not even about us. Instead, marriage is intended to be a reflection of Christ’s love to the Church. Just like Christ, the Servant-King, loved us and was (and is) ultimately for the other, even at the sacrifice of His very life (what great lengths Christ has traversed to love us!)we are to serve and love each other in Christ and be ultimately for the things of God in each other, dishwashing or otherwise. It’s only as we love God and others that we can begin to discover all of who He intends each of us to be. This is why marriage cannot be reduced to good feelings and romance. Of course, it includes those things, and they are very important. But far too often, we confuse them as being love’s foundation rather than love’s overflow.

It is beyond this blog post’s purpose to try to get at love’s foundation, but maybe we can just start with 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Dishwashing has become a chore I’ve learned to enjoy in marriage; it’s a way for me to love Gloria. I didn’t always think this way (and to be honest, sometimes, I still complain and procrastinate). But somehow God keeps showing up in this ordinary and mundane task: I’ve learned to use 2-3 cups a day now – having to wash and dry them has a funny way of producing conservative efforts in me…. I’ve also discovered more of what it means to love without any real gain for myself. In Christianity, we call this agape love, or the love of God that meets us for no other purpose but to be ultimately for us. Isn’t that an amazing thought? Our God is for us! Dishwashing even serves as an act of worship as I remember how Christ has washed me clean and continues to renew me.

I still have a long journey ahead of me as His Spirit molds me more into the image of Christ, but I’m grateful that I’ve witnessed Christ in something as simple as dishwashing. As we wait for the coming of Jesus, let’s remember and recall how He has shown up in each of our lives.


For a free Advent devotional, check out John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy, click here or use the links below:

Free PDF


Free MOBI (for Kindle)