My friend Elephant's Child has an Advent post that I could have written (but I wouldn't have said it as well). I hope you'll read the whole thing. But here's an excerpt:
My heart and my confidence has been in myself. I have sinned against the First Commandment; my special god has been my own good works of the season, my attempts to make Christmas "perfect" for my family. To these things have I looked for blessings, help, and comfort.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Bring our hearts instead to know no other comfort outside of You.
A few days ago, feeling burdened by the demands of the season, I wrote my own Advent prayer. Today I'm feeling a little more relaxed. But is it because I was able to cross a few tasks off the task list yesterday and get a little closer to the "perfect" Christmas, or because I am entrusting my cares unto the Lord, who grants all peace and comfort?
I don't know. I really don't. I hope it's the latter. But I'm so steeped in my own sinful self-reliance that I fear it's the former. Probably, simultaneous saint and sinner that I am, it's both.
But there are things that need to be done. And I am the one to do them. So how do I keep it all in perspective, going about my work joyfully but not letting it become my god, finding my worth and reward in Christ who has claimed me rather than in my satisfaction at my own accomplishments?
Poor miserable sinner that I am, I can't. All I can do is lay my sinful self at the foot of the cross and plead for His mercy, which miraculously comes without hesitation or condition: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
Boy, is that the truth. The older I get the more I realize I have no clue what I am doing. Thanks be to God for His Son, who did it all so that I wouldn't have to, offering up His perfect life in place of my failed one, imputing his righteousness to me.
The perfect Christmas? You better believe it's coming to my house. And its name is Jesus.