“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6 ~
“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” ~ Alexander Smith ~
ADVENT ~ from the Latin adventus, meaning arrival, celebrates in anticipation the arrival of Christ Jesus. Without Christmas, they would be no Easter and without Easter or Christmas, there would be no Christ. In my heart and home, it’s not important I don’t know the exact date of Christ birth, His bar mitzvah, His turning the water into wine, His baptism or anything else Holy Scripture tells us. What’s important is He be celebrated, honored and given glory and for the first time in years (!) I intend to celebrate the Christmas Season…all of it…and started today at church. Please, celebrate with me…
“Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.” ~ Janice Maeditere ~
Blackstone Baptist Church has a new music director, Carter E., and his is a gift divine. Today especially, I could feel the presence of God… hearing us, watching us, among us, as Curtis played both organ and piano as instruments and voices were lifted to glorify God and Savior. In other words, service was enormous and it sounded as if our small choir might have given the angels pause to listen.
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~ Mother Teresa ~
In the Western Christian tradition, Advent begins the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas day. This year, it’s a proper Advent due to the first Sunday falling on December 1; in 2020, it will be November 29th. For more informative stories regarding Advent (one story chills to the marrow and tells how Nazi’s abducted the Christmas story) click here. Advent calendars abound, both religious and secular but had has similar beginnings…to ease into the holiday…the Holy Day…and experience deeply, not superficially, the true meaning and Spirit of Christmas.
If you’re interested in a Jesse Tree Advent Calendar, click here. It’s beginnings are based on Isaiah 11:1, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” This would be a delight if you have small children in your life; it’s a tremendous way to tell the Bible story as they make the ornaments. A lot of people have no clue the heritage of Christ include widows, prostitutes, murderer’s, adulterer’s, a rapist, human trafficker, pagan king, idolater who burned his son alive as a sacrifice to a pagan god, polygamist and the couple responsible for original sin, Adam and Eve. If this isn’t cause for celebration that God loves ME [YOU], what is? No one is beyond redemption; Jesus said, “If you come to me, I will not cast you out.” You don’t have to pray a “sinner’s pray” or make a long and convoluted statement. The thief on the cross didn’t do those things and yet Christ told him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” No matter what you’ve done or said or who you are, like the Prodigal Son, the Father is waiting to welcome you Home.
“The Christmas Spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving.” ~ James Cash Penny ~
Advent gives us a time of reflection on the entire Bible story…the good, the bad and the birth of a baby giving us a way back to the Father, to spend eternity in His presence, the presence of angels and the great cloud of witnesses gone ahead.
“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” ~ Dale Evans Rogers ~
Advent calendars may be as simple as socks, or stockings if you have them, hung from the mantle. If you don’t have a mantle, hang them from a tree branch suspended in a doorway. It’s not the preciousness or the perfectness that’s the Season; it’s the anticipation, the knowing all creation is groaning at His second coming while we celebrate His first coming.
“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it white.” ~ Bing Crosby ~
Today, the Advent candle was lit with HOPE although ancient legend says the natural world -the world of animals, plants and minerals- rejoice at His coming. I like to celebrate both.
We also celebrated Communion today and that’s always a glorious time but especially today…Advent and Communion to celebrate His birth and in memory of the Last Supper. One occasion joyous, the other solemn both to focus upon our Father’s blessings and gifts. We end our Communion service by standing in a circle, holding hands and singing Blest Be the Tie That Binds.
“Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand to hand.” ~ Dr. Seuss ~
I came home to listen to Christmas carols; I Pray on Christmas is a jazzy favorite but I would be totally remiss if I didn’t give the link to my all time favorite by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir, In the Bleak Midwinter. Tomorrow I hope to make my Advent wreath…yes, yes, a bit late but better than not at all. For the next few days and weeks, the focus will be on the Christmas SEASON…not just the Eve or the Day but celebrating and remembering all of the Season—Saint Nicholas, Saint Lucia, Feast of Saint Stephen, the Slaughter of the Innocents, Boxing Day, 3 gifts or 4?, New Year’s Eve and a whole lot more. It all comes to an end on Epiphany when legend has it the Three Wise Men visited the Christ Child. Tomorrow, God willing, is “Do Less, Give More” and has little to do with money. In fact, it has almost nothing to do with money!
Are you intrigued?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. ~ John 10:10 ~