Pastor’s Column December 2018
As December approaches, we all wonder how we will get everything done. There is a whole list of tasks and items we “must” pull together by December 24th. It is a challenge to focus on what truly matters in the midst of what our culture calls the Christmas Season. I prefer to hold steady on the practices of the Season of Advent – then celebrate Christmas when it arrives. I invite you to find the balance for your life these next four weeks.
Bible Reading – There are many good devotional books available. Have chosen A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson for myself. Or, you could read the story of the birth of Jesus as a meditation – focusing on the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Any Bible reading guide is inspiring. At church, we are focusing on the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of Messiah to the world as the weeks pass.
Lighting Candles – This can be a meaningful way to center on Christ, the Light of the World. A simple wreath, or four or five candles arranged in a circle offer time and space to remember the great narrative of God and God’s people – leading to the arrival of the Christ Child. This year in the church we will light four candles over the course of the season. These lights represent the wondrous divine gifts that entered the world with Jesus: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. Then, on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, you can light one candle (usually white) to represent the birth of the Child. An Advent Wreath brings the experience of Christ’s coming to our homes with amazing power.
Sacrificial Giving – Deciding which ministry or mission you wish to emphasize for Advent is an inspiring practice. Although we give all year long, it is especially meaningful to bring gifts to the Christ Child. You may choose simply to show up for acts of ministry – serving a free community meal at a church or mission – helping prepare Christmas Boxes for families who need our support at the end of the year. Whether it is gifts of money or gifts of serving, giving ourselves away is at the heart of our Christian practice.
Practicing Silence – Finding time and space for quiet reflection is a challenge in the bustle and noise of shopping, parties and preparation. Keeping the ongoing practice of daily Bible reading is for every season all year. But you might like to transform one or two things you do routinely – making coffee or tea, brushing your teeth or washing your hands. This time can be filled with a favorite hymn or carol. You could also devote these routines to practicing a Scripture you are trying to memorize. Slowing down and filling our minds and hearts with God’s Word is devotion. Then a simple prayer of thanks can end your Jesus moment.
However you choose to spend the coming weeks leading up to the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ –whether you give special gifts, light candles or sing songs – let’s join together to welcome the Light of the World. Following Him, we walk in light even in the midst of the darkness. May your and my Advent and Christmas 2018 be inspiring and refreshing.