In the book of John, we notice that in the beginning, when Andrew and one of the other disciples begin to follow Jesus, Jesus asks them, “What are you seeking?” (John 1:38). In reply they ask where Jesus is staying, and Jesus responds, “Come and you will see.” Now fast forward to the end of the book of John. Mary comes to the empty tomb, not realizing Jesus has risen, and Jesus asks her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” (John 20:15)
This question, “What are you seeking?” comes to my mind during Advent, because if I am not careful, I can easily focus on what material gifts, feel-good vibes, or temporary joys I might gain from holiday festivities. Am I seeking Christ and His kingdom, or am I seeking material things, approval, status, or temporary celebrations (such as FIFA World Cup 2022)? I need to remember that “Whom are you seeking?” is a more important question than, “What are you seeking?”
Most of us try to schedule a certain number of holiday gatherings, shopping, sightseeing, or concerts. Many of these are family traditions and enjoyable activities. But the endless advertisements and the commercial nature of Christmas pushes to the front of our minds what material things we WANT the most. The culture around us will suggest fifty different ways to make this the “BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!”, and yet minutes later will have already moved on to the year-end sales of items we missed. We can mistakenly seek the “What” of the holidays and not the “Who”. Jesus himself is the reason for Christmas.
But in another way, “What are you seeking?” can be a question we can gently pose to our neighbors and those who do not yet know Jesus. The holidays are a time when we can observe what people care about the most. It can be a time when many people are lonely, disappointed, or searching for friendship, not to mention those facing trials within their own family. Hallmark movies, Walmart and Target Ads filled with cozy fireplaces, steaming hot food, and wall to wall family and friends may often make a person wonder, “Do I matter to anyone else? Will I get through this season of life? What is next for me in school, in my career, in my relationships?” When we are willing to talk to others and spend time listening, we will often hear people express the longings of their heart. Although those longings may be expressed as a desire for a new job, disappointment in a relationship, more friends, or some personal goal, we can offer them more. We can offer them the good news of Christ, which meets a person’s deepest needs. We can share the joy of knowing Jesus, which is much more satisfying than any of the things a person might seek over the Christmas season.