I decided yesterday to not open my laptop to do my blog, so that I could focus on Christ and on family, as our tradition is to do our Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve.  So thank you for bearing with me as I catch up today!  Before we dive into the word for yesterday’s Advent Journey, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas! Let us rejoice in Christ our Savior and be filled with joy today!

So “Cookie” was the word for Day 24.  Hah!  This one is the most un-spiritual, lighthearted words on the list…and I’m not sure what got into my head when I wrote that word out for our Advent Journey…what did I imagine blogging about? But it is a fun word and I’m glad it’s on our list to focus on, because Christmas should be filled with cheer…and feasting…and cookies!

So I asked my Dad yesterday, while he was cooking his homemade sauerbraten and spaetzles and baking my Grandmom’s Polish Bread recipe with Jamie, “What in the world do I write about with the word cookie?” And thankfully, my Dad came through and sparked some ideas…!

Don’t we all love cookies at Christmas?  I have special memories of baking cookies with my parents when I was younger, and now Jamie and I have a lot of fun baking together.  I remember when I was very young, leaving cookies and milk out for Santa and carrots for his reindeer on Christmas Eve.  It was magical.  I remember the special Santa mugs and Christmas plates that we had for our treats for Santa.  Children around the world wait for their gifts from Santa, and in turn, leave their own gifts out for Santa.  

In light of the gifts we give to Santa, let’s search our hearts and ask ourselves what gifts we are going to bring to Jesus this year.  The wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  What is on your heart to give to the Lord? What would you like to present to him, not just at Christmas, but in the coming year?

One of the gifts I want to intentionally bring to Jesus this coming year is joy.  Because He is the giver of true joy, I want to live in that joy daily.  It has to be a choice, and sometimes even a sacrifice, but it will be a gift well worth receiving and giving.  What about you?  Is there something you know you could give to Jesus this year?

The Lord tells His people in Hosea 6:6 (New Living Translation):

I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.

More than gifts of offerings and sacrifices, more than even our tithes and our duties and good works, God truly desires our hearts.  He desires us to know Him intimately and personally, to have relationship with Him.  While it is good to go to church, to read our Bibles, to do kind things for others…if there is no heart behind it, if there is no relationship behind it, if there is no love for Christ behind it…it is meaningless.  

So as we embark on the new year, may 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 12 be our pledge.  May we bring the gifts to Jesus this year that He desires, above all- love.  May we know Him fully and invite Him into our hearts to know us in the most remarkable, transformative way.  May He be our King, and may we, with the wise men, bow down and worship Him. 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.