Dear friends in Christ,
I trust that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day Holiday. I hope that along with a wonderful meal that you were able to have some time to laugh and share with your family and friends. As we enter December and what all our nation’s retailers call the Christmas Season, I hope that you are able to find the spiritual treasures that are available to us as the church during this wonderful time in spite of the relentless consumerism of our society.
What our retailers and our society call the Christmas Season is what the church has for nearly 2000 years called Advent. For the church, the Christmas Season or Christmastide begins on the evening of December 24 and continues until January 6 (Epiphany).
This Advent season brings with it a flurry of activities for our families and our church.
- December 4, is the Second Sunday of Advent, the bell choir will be playing, and we have been invited to the Christmas Tea at the Alexandria Presbyterian Church (12:15 PM),
- December 11, is the Third Sunday of Advent, Rose Sunday, this year pink roses will be given to all those in worship, and the choir will be singing,
- December 18, is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we will have the collection of the Christmas Joy Offering, the children will be featured in worship, where they will present fictional ponderings of the characters present at Jesus’ birth, under the creative umbrella of Mark Lowry’s, Mary, Did You Know?,
- December 24, we will have our Christmas Eve & Candlelight Service starting at 7:30 PM, the choir will sing, the bell choir will play, and there will be a variety of instrumental music presented,
- December 25, we will have the rare treat of having worship on Christmas Day, the choir will sing with the bells choir accompanying them, and
- January 1, we will have a Lessons and Carols Worship Service.
We have all these activities along with our regular committee meetings and other work.
Advent marks the beginning of the Liturgical Year for Christianity. It is a time when we reflect upon the significance of the historical coming of Jesus to the world, when we contemplate the magnitude of Jesus Christ’s claim upon our lives and our commitments to his kingdom, and when we reflect upon the implication of the Second Coming of Christ and the accompanying judgment. Advent speaks to (1) that which has been opened, (2) to that which is being opened, and (3) to that which is to be opened later. There is a sort of three-dimensional nature to Advent just as there is a three-dimensional aspect to our faith journeys: (1) what God has already done in our lives, (2) what God is doing now, and (3) what God still has planned for us.
Liturgically Advent culminates in the proclamation by the angels to the shepherds that the Messiah had been born. Our lives are to find their zenith in our proclamation to the world that new life can be found through that child who was born so long ago, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only in the name of Jesus that the world can be saved and it is our responsibility as his disciples to share the Good News and to warn the world of the coming judgment. For just assuredly as did Jesus come as a babe so long ago in the little town of Bethlehem he will someday return in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Friends, enjoy the season but be aware of the meaning of the season. Do not let the trappings of our society overshadow the spiritual dimension of this season or the spiritual blessings that are there for you. Christ came to us once in lowly estate but will return in glory. Be prepared.
I invite you as you seek after a deeper meaning for this season to attend worship as often as possible. I want to encourage you to gather together with others to lift your voice in songs of praise in response to the many blessings God has given you. I charge you to seek out those who are in need, those who are mourning, and those who are lonely and be to them instruments and messengers of God’s care, comfort, and love.
Prayer: Eternal God we thank you for all the ways you have blessed us in this holy season. We ask that you would continue to bless us and that you would empower us with your Holy Spirit in such a way that our entire life would serve as a testimony to the Good News found in Jesus Christ. Let us be like the shepherds of long ago who upon hearing the proclamation of the angels went in search of the Christ child and upon finding him made known what they had been told thus amazing all who heard them. Let us be the shepherds of the season this year. Amen
Yours in Christ,
Earnest C. Walls (Pastor)