December 11, 2012

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How Advent Can Be Much More Than "The Christmas Season" For the longest time, I thought "Advent" was just a fancy word for "the Christmas season," a holier, maybe more spiritual-sounding word for an otherwise hectic and overly-commercialized holiday stretch between Thanksgiving and December 25. What I've discovered in the past few years of observing Advent is that it's not just a different word; it's an entirely different approach. Let me explain. Advent as a season is meant to make the journey toward Christmas full of meaning; it's meant to put us touch with our deepest longings and greatest hopes; it's meant to teach us to bring all our desires together on one object: Christ. While "Christmas" as a season (properly) begins on December 25 and goes twelve days (yes, there's a song about that!) until January 6th, Advent is all about the build-up to it. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and takes us right up to the glorious celebration of the incarnation. When you journey through Advent to Christmas, you begin to see Jesus more fully. You recognize that His incarnation was the beginning of the redemption of the world and that His return is the completion of it. Advent pulls those two moments together. It overlays the joy of His arrival as a helpless babe with the hope of His appearing as conquering King. Both arrivals are anticipated in celebrating Advent. But changing an approach to "the holidays" is a daunting task. So here are three simple suggestions for how to make the switch from simply "celebrating the holidays" to journeying through Advent and on to Christmas. 1. Focus on the Longing. It has been said that at the bottom of human personality is the fundamental question of what a person is living for. What do we set our hopes on? What, in an ultimate...
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Merry Christmas from the Packiams! Hi friends...we never got around to making a Christmas card this year, so please accept this as our best wishes to you and your families! A little update: The Lord added a fourth child to our family this year. On June 20, baby Jane Michael Packiam was born. We made the decision to homeschool Sophia (7 1/2) and Norah (6), and Holly found an excellent and rigorous curriculum that the girls are enjoying...mostly. One of the highlights of each day is the time spent reading rich and living books together. They also love their music classes, seasonal ballet lessons or theater classes, and swimming lessons. Jonas (3) is obsessed with cars and soccer, both of which keep him crashing often into the girls' games of dolls and house! He's loved his swimming lessons and soccer classes, necessary outlets for his boundless energy. I'm about half-way through a second Masters degree-- this one in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. I also recorded an album with Integrity Music called, 'The Mystery of Faith," that will release early next year along with an ebook. Both trace the journey of discovery that we've been on, rooting our faith in a Christ-centered worship that reaches its high point in the Eucharist. One of our great joys this year has been the launch of new life DOWNTOWN, an extension of New Life Church. We love the community that the Lord is forming in the heart of our city. Though we often find ourselves overwhelmed, we are reminded of all that we have to be grateful for. Much of the fullness in our lives is fruitfulness that is the result God's grace at work in our lives. And so, we praise Him. We are so thankful to have friends and family like you, to share in the...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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