The room was packed for the preschool Christmas program. I was sitting near the aisle with my camera in hand. My son Joshua was Joseph that year and his friend Claire was Mary. I was prepared to document the entire event.
The procession commenced. As the kids walked in, I spotted Joseph and Mary, holding hands. Totally precious.
I fumbled with my camera, trying to capture the moment. Unable to get the cap off the lens, I reached for my phone to get some video. I was looking down . . . pushing buttons. By the time I was ready, the kids were already up front. I missed the entire entrance.
But there was Joshua, in his Joseph garb. He picked me out of the sea of faces and waved. “Hi, Dad!” He didn't care about the pictures. He just wanted my attention.
At that moment, I made a vow. "I’m going to stop documenting this event and instead simply be at this event." This applies to much of our life, especially in December.
We are obsessed with doing at the expense of being.
For Christians, the season of Advent is a way to do December differently. Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” It is a time to be focused on our Lord and attentive to his arrival. It has historically been a time of quiet and simplicity. Instead, we’ve made it a season of business and activity.
Jesus had a remarkable ability to just be with people. In reading the gospels, he never appears hurried or rushed. He wasn’t overly preoccupied with completing a task or checking off a to-do list. For Jesus, people were not projects to be done. They were just people to be with.
Let’s do this December differently by being present.
First, let’s be present with God.
Let’s be present with others.
Who needs your presence? Write their name down. Your spouse? Children or grandchildren? A friend? An elderly neighbor?
What will you do to be present with them?
I tend to be very task-oriented. I am fixated on getting things done. But then I see my son dressed as Joseph. It’s likely the only time in his life when he will play Joseph in the Christmas program. And he’s looking at me and waving. He just wants my attention.
This Advent, Jesus just wants you. Not your overtime. Not your good deeds. Not your busyness. Not your Christmas cards or to-do list. Not your cooking and cleaning. He just wants you. This is why he came. This is the point of the incarnation. God come to be present and personal with his people.
So let's do December differently. Set aside the camera, and the phone, and the list, and the distractions.