Esther C. Baird
Well here we are, as you read this, the season of Advent is already upon us and if you are anything like me, that means mostly a season of increased business, stress, social obligations, and a stack of holiday catalogs that only serve to make your trash heavy.
Christmas has become a commercial and cultural extravaganza. We may know that there is more to Christmas, and we may show up to church on Sunday and say the right things, but if we’re honest, this time of year we often feel stress and anxiety instead of joy and peace. This time of year, by the time I get home at night I’m so exhausted that I no longer feel like there is anything to celebrate—certainly not that I still have to make dinner!
Well good news, if you feel that way, Advent is for you! There is true Joy, there is real Peace, and it’s for you, and it’s for me.
Jesus came at Christmas not as a one-off miracle, but as the continuation of the big story that God has been telling since He created the world. God wants to be with us. He always has. When we celebrate Advent, we are celebrating that God made a way to be with His people first in the Old Testament, then through the real and physical presence of Jesus on earth. Now, He makes a way to be with us through His Spirit who dwells in us. Always and forever God wants to be with us, that’s what Immanuel means, “God with us”.
Yes, Advent is about celebrating the coming of Jesus as a baby, but it is also about looking forward to when Jesus will return. When you sing, Joy to the World the Lord has Come,you are anticipating the promise that Jesus will come again. Joy to the world because Jesus came as a baby but He is also coming back someday! Joy to the world because when Christ returns, all the things that are now broken will be redeemed. Joy to the world because our lives, our exhaustion, our broken relationships, our sorrows, all of it will be set right if we follow the King who came that first Christmas and who is coming again. Joy to the world because this is not the end of the story.
Christmas is about always and forever. Christmas is a year-round celebration (tell your campers to request Christmas carols next summer for morning worship!). This Advent we believe that God has been making a way since the beginning of time to be with us and promises us a future where exhaustion and stress and sorrow will be no more. If we believe that, then no matter what else happens this year, we can claim true Joy.
Joy for the Christmas story, that we are part of today and forever.
Esther Baird (pictured above with her daughter Riley on pick up day at Deer Run) is the Director of Women’s Ministries at her church north of Boston, and a columnist in her local newspaper. Her two daughters have attended Deer Run and MRO for 7 yrs. Her new 25 day daily Advent book,, is now available on Amazon both in paperback and on Kindle. Her website is: