Honest Advent: Day 23

December 23, 2022, By: Jimmy Scruggs

Day 23: Attention

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his start as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2

The eve of Christmas Eve is upon us. For my family and our church, that means the start of a hectic 24 hours. Tonight, we will open the doors for our first of four candlelight services where we pause together and experience the beauty and mystery of the birth of Jesus yet again. But still, I have meals to plan and presents to wrap. There are last minute details to take care of for the services. The truth is many things will pull at me and compete for my attention over the next 36 hours.

Today’s Advent reading is a gentle reminder to me to pay attention over the next 36 hours. The spirit whispers, “Ryan, pay attention to the gifts I am giving you: your family, the congregation, your friends.” The divine always needs to remind me to be attentive to the person and not the task. Sure, the Magi had a task, but they were focused on the person. When we moved to Colorado we started “Crazy Christmas Eve Family Pancake Breakfast.” At “Crazy Christmas Eve Family Pancake Breakfast,” we all put on crazy Christmas clothes and go out for crazy pancakes before the craziness of multiple services begins. It is our way of taking a breath and being together since we know we will be exhausted at the end of the day. It is one simple way we could pay attention to each other in the middle of the chaos.

Perhaps you too have a crowded schedule these next 36 hours. Maybe you have meals to plan, presents to wrap, a beautiful candlelight service to attend and a few last-minute batteries to buy. In the midst of it all, don’t forget to pay attention to the gifts the spirit is giving you; not the gifts under the tree, but the people in your presence.

—Ryan Howell