It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas
The slow creep of the Christmas season is now turning into a full-on gallop as we round the corner of Thanksgiving and enter the Advent Season. I say “slow creep” because I first spotted Christmas trees and other decorations on sale at Home Depot in September. I suppose this isn’t anything new. For those of us of a certain age, the Holiday season started with the arrival in the mailbox of the Sears and Spiegel Christmas catalogues in the early fall.
Our churches have started decorating their sanctuaries, and I’m sure many of us will soon be decorating our homes with festive lights and Christmas trees, cookie sales are being discussed, and other “Christmassy” things are being planned. It’s beginning to a lot like Christmas, and to be honest, this preparation is leaving me more than a little breathless.
So, I suggest that we all take time to remember the purpose of the Advent season. Advent is a time set aside for the interior preparation of the coming of Jesus. Observing an Advent discipline helps to center ourselves, to slow down, to shift our focus from all the “busyness” of the season and allow Christ to be born once again in our hearts. I encourage us all to set aside time each day to pause, take a deep breath, and reflect on what the birth of Christ means for each of us, and for the world.
In our family we have our own advent wreath and each night we read an Advent devotion and spend time reflecting on the significance of God coming to earth in human form as a reminder of God’s infinite love, mercy, and grace. What are your Advent traditions? I’d love to hear them.
One new Advent practice I’d like to encourage is that of invitation. Each of us encounter many, many people each week. Some of these people have home churches, and many others do not. I encourage each of you to invite someone new to church each week during Advent. Invite them to the many special services we will hold. There’s someone waiting for that invitation, and you may be only person who will invite him or her to church. Be bold this Advent season in your invitations.
I found a beautiful Advent devotion written by the Reverend Jerry Chism recently on our UMC.Org website. I’d like to share it with you now.
by the Rev. Jerry Chism
Oh Immanuel, God with us, truly in this Advent season we celebrate that you are not hidden in some faraway cloud, but you chose to be with us in the blur and mystery of our lives.
In the midst of lists and rush, you are with us as a song that echoes in our minds, as the light of a candle, as a card from a friend. They are signs of your presence.
We turn to you this season and pray that you would birth joy and healing, blessing and hope in us.
Let something wonderful begin in us — something surprising and holy.
May your hand be upon us. Let your love fill us. Let your joy overwhelm us. Let our longing for you be met on a coming holy night. Immanuel with us once again.
May God richly bless you all during Advent and Christmas Season