There is a rush to get to Christmas. There is a rush to get the Christmas decorations up in stores. There is a rush to get Christmas songs on the radio. Personally I would prefer this to all wait until we have the Thanksgiving holiday first. (In Australia, there is also a rush, and no Thanksgiving Holiday to be in the way. So early November the tinsel and artificial snow is going up in there stores.) Thankfully we have the season of Advent to catch our breath, to push the pause button, to reflect on why we have Christmas, namely the birth of Jesus. I encourage you to come to worship as you are able, to hear the Advent readings, to pray the Advent prayers, to see the Advent wreath counting down the weeks until Christmas. And you may not be too old to buy an Advent calendar, and open a little box each day, and pray for the Lord’s coming in our midst. Some of you may have other Advent traditions. When Pastor Ramona Hayes was our vicar, she showed us her Jesse tree. What will you do this Advent to help to center yourself on the heart of Christmas, and prepare yourself for this wonderful festival?
Advent has some similarities to Lent. For many years the two seasons shared the liturgical color of purple. In more recent years, many churches including ours has the color blue – a color for hope. I’m looking forward to wearing that blue. As well as this season helping us to place our hope in Jesus, it can also be a season of helping to restore hope to people. For example – we are planning a church outing to sing to many of our homebound members. Our youth are planning to be wrapping gifts at Faith Mission. Advent is a season to be praying for and serving the more vulnerable in our communities and helping them to have more hope. You may think of writing a personal message of hope to those you are sending Christmas card or letter to this year. You are invited to use the holiday brochures we have at church to invite family and friends to our Christmas Eve worship, and other events leading up to Christmas.
Christmas will come soon enough. Personally I like to highlight the traditional 12 days of Christmas that begin on Christmas Eve and go through to Epiphany on January 6th. During those days we will have worship at Ascension on Sunday December 27 focusing on Christmas carols and their stories, and on January 3 will celebrate Epiphany Sunday. (And we are going to keep up the Christmas trees and decorations at church through this time – and Mary and I will do the same at our home.)
I wish you a blessed and reflective hope-filled Advent this year, and a joyful Christmas celebration.
- Pastor Tim