I feel as if I have missed so much of advent. I love the readings, the candles, the feeling of the season. Usually I feel such a sense of anticipation but this year that is absent. I almost dread Christmas. I am not ready. For me it is about giving and this year I have so little to give. Advent gears me up and instills a sense of awe.That awe is not present.
Seek that awe.It is what gets us ready for the birth of Jesus. It helps us to experience Christmas with all the joy it demands.
We need to remember that God is our Father and our Mother. He is all things. Our simple minds form God in ways that we can understand and we don’t have any word to encompass all that God is. That may go some way to explain why God’s name was never spoken….there was more there than could be grasped. Think about the many images and ideas about who God is during this season of advent.
In the church that I belong to Advent is the first season of the church year. This is our New Year. The church set aside three years for reading most of the significant parts of the Bible to be sure that they are read over the three years.
The word Advent is derived from the Latin word “coming’ which we know reflects the coming of Christ into the world. The beginning of advent starts with one candle being lit and the rest each Sunday. There can be four or five candles in the wreath. When there are five the fifth is lit for Christmas.
During advent we can get very busy with all the preparations for Christmas…buying gifts, baking cookies, decorating and it is so easy to forget the point of it all. Take some time to think about the arrival of a child who will change everything.
It is advent my favorite season of the church year. I am sad that I can’t attend church and see the advent colors on the alter and the wreath lit week after week. I miss it so. I love this hymn that can be used adding a verse each week.
Advent is for anticipation and expectation. It is a time for looking toward good things. What could be better than the birth of a baby. Even after the upheaval of moving, downsizing and changing our lives completely I still want to immerse myself in the coming joy.
Today I cleaned out a file cabinet and found some things I wrote a while ago. This one stood out to me and I kept it out so I could think about it. It was written after re-reading the beatitudes in Matthew 5.
Turn loose of your pride and know that you are not the most important thing in the world. Forget “I can do anything better than you” and substitute ” together we can do anything.”
Remember when everything is gone…God is still there.
Be content with what you have. Remember the most important thing is to have a relationship with God.
Look for God and he will find you. When you are filled with God nothing else is needed.
Remember Christ’s commandment. Love the Lord you God with all your heart and all your soul and all you mind and your neighbor as yourself.
Clean out the closet in yourself. Git rid of the grudges and pain you still carry for no reason. Let God fill those places.
Be the peacemaker. Don’t take sides. Be part of the solution instead of adding to the problem.
Be different. Be unusual enough that someone asks “why do you act that way?” And you can answer “because I follow Christ.”
Lately I have been thinking about the word grace. It is one we don’t often talk about but it is an important word.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
So what is this grace? It is an example of God’s love for us. By grace he accepts us as the flawed human beings that we are. He understands how we can go astray and be unkind toward one another. He understands the hatred and the violence. He understands the discrimination toward others not like us.
God gets it all. But there is that word “grace.” The word that holds his love and understanding of all that we do. With faith we have been saved from ourselves.
21 My child, do not let these escape from your sight: keep sound wisdom and prudence, 22 and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. 23 Then you will walk on your way securely and your foot will not stumble. 24 If you sit down,[a] you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked; 26 for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.
Too often we look to the wrong place for help. We hunt for our security in things of this world. We try to find it in ourselves. When we do this we fall short and end up in crisis. Our only true security is in God. This excerpt from Proverbs tells us that if we sit down (with God) we will not be afraid and we will be able to lie down in sweet sleep. It is so easy to forget this. Turn to the Lord. In him is our safety.
Religion is a way of walking, not a way of talking. Dean William R. Inge
Too often we spend a lot of time talking about our faith. We tend to forget that talking is only the very smallest part of what we are to do as Christians. It’s what we do when we walk out of the door of the church that matters. People know us by our actions.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed, droops on the little hands, little golden head; Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.
Vespers by A. A. Milne
When I was a child I knelt every night at the side of my bed and said my prayers. Somewhere in the teen years this habit faded. I started worrying that I wasn’t praying properly. My pryaers became sporadic.
There is no right or wrong way to pray. Whether we do it formally together in church, by ourselves, or just talk to God as we go through the day, our prayers are still heard.
Prayer: Help me to learn that all of life is a prayer. But let me remember that time for intentional, concentrated prayer is important too.