Rediscover True Joy This Christmas
by Asheritah Ciuciu
For the longest time, Christmas filled me with angst because of the insane pressure we place on ourselves to make the holidays picture perfect. We spend so much of the holiday season creating our own little winter wonderlands: cookies and cards, lights and decorations, carols and get-togethers. But what exactly are we doing to prepare spiritually?
I first encountered the idea of Advent as a young college student, so I decided to find out more. Advent means “coming,” from the Latin word adventus, and demarks a season of expectantly preparing to celebrate the first coming of Jesus, while eagerly awaiting His second coming to establish His kingdom, even as we celebrate His presence among us through the promised Holy Spirit. As it’s celebrated in the Western church, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and is observed through Christmas Eve. Observances often include an Advent calendar, Advent daily devotionals, and an Advent wreath, an evergreen wreath containing five candles. Each candle represents a theme and is lit on successive Sundays and Christmas Eve.
Gradually, I began incorporating Advent into my own spiritual preparation. One year, I reflected on the names of Jesus because I realized that I need to worship Jesus for who He is before I can fully celebrate His birth in the company of His congregation. This practice of meditating on a different name each day, while not an Advent tradition per se, taught me to worship Jesus in a way I’d never learned before. I unwrapped His names one at a time, excitement and anticipation building for the arrival of Christmas Eve. As I walked into the candlelit service on Christmas Eve, my heart soared at the sight of the manger. This was the meaning of Christmas: this beautiful, profound, majestic scene of the eternal God entering time and space for you and for me. So I wrote Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional to help us grow in our knowledge and love of Jesus. I pray this devotional will become your springboard into deeper worship.
Asheritah Ciucio is an author, speaker and blogger. She grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and studied English and Women’s Ministry at Cedarville University in Ohio. Her passion is helping women find joy in Jesus through a deeper walk with God, and she shares personal stories and practical tips on www.OneThingAlone.com. Asheritah is married to Flaviu and together they raise their spunky children in northeast Ohio.