Advent is more than just an accessory to December on a religious calendar. It’s a season of anticipation that puts your grandmother’s Christmas Eve countdown clock to shame. It’s not just about decking halls, ringing bells, and gleaming lovelights. It’s a month-long journey toward remembering something incredible… something miraculous.

Each week of Advent has a theme. Think of it like a faith-based playlist. Hope, peace, joy, and love ask us to pause in our rush and focus on what we ourselves need… indeed, what the world needs the most. Let’s be honest with ourselves: does the way that we handle the Christmas season leave us filled and renewed in hope, in peace, in joy, and in love? Or does it leave us exhausted, empty, and yearning for something more substantial?

In the spirit of self-examination, how much of our stress this time of year is self-created? As you consider all of the things you “must” do, is it genuinely true that “nothing” can be laid aside? Perhaps it’s a time to pause the Hallmark / Lifetime / Netflix holiday movie marathon and think about the bigger picture – the whole reason behind all the shiny stuff.

In a world that races through December like it’s a sprint, Advent asks us to take a stroll. Retail impulses and peer pressure shout at us to do more, bigger, better, and faster. Advent invites us to patience and reflection. In yet another way, God invites us to a different way of life than our culture considers “normal.” Many times our choices are not between good and bad, but between good and best. In some not-so-subtle ways, we might send the same message as that unwitting Bethlehem motel clerk did: “there’s no room for you here.” He wasn’t a villain. He simply found all available resources consumed.

In all that you want to do this Christmas, in all that you feel you must do, don’t miss out on what matters most. What you need the most. What the world needs the most. Jesus came to save, and at the very least, to save us from ourselves. He brings hope, peace, joy, and love to a world that could use a whole lot more of each.