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Sunday, December 1, 2013
Bread for the Journey
Over the past couple of weeks I devoted time to discover some inspiring 'advent readings' from Max Lucado, Dietrich Bonhofer, and Mark D. Roberts. It gives one a sense of calming before the Christmas surge truly begins. So often during this season, it's easy to loose focus, because we get distracted by what the world values. Shopping malls have been promoting Christmas since after Halloween. Children are anxiously waiting to open their presents, while others are anxiously waiting for that first snowfall. Some of us are anxiously waiting for a diagnoses from our doctors, while others are waiting for the birth of a child. Some of us are dashing out for some quick last minute shopping only to wait in long line-ups, while others of us are waiting for relationships to be healed. Some of us are waiting for our loved ones to know the Lord, while others are waiting to go to their eternal home. The media bombards us with Christmas advertisements and programs. Everywhere we look the message of Christmas is adding challenges and pressures to our peace and joy rather than becoming focused and centered on Jesus.
Last week while visiting in Calgary, I enjoyed looking at the houses lit up with Christmas lights. I enjoyed browsing through stores that were adding their Christmas garland, giving us the message that the next season was approaching fast. At a quiet luncheon spot, down town, we sat sipping on hot apple cider, listening to the words of Silent Night being echoed into the bistro. It was in that moment, when I realized, how we need to make Jesus the center piece of our hearts during this advent season.
Let's not become distracted, letting all the other obligations that are associated with Christmas, nibble away at the joy and peace in our hearts. Let's not put Jesus in a box in the attic of our heart and pull him out only when the time is right.
Advent means 'coming' or 'visit' which means we are focusing on the coming of the birth of Christ Jesus. Christians have been practicing Advent over the years. Advent is a season of waiting, expecting and hoping. There are many ways to celebrate Advent, but remember, how we celebrate does not matter. It's not the songs we sing, it's not the color of candles, it's not your church traditions. Advent is a time of growing into a deeper, truer relationship with God. It's sharing our yearning and hope with our community of faith. Advent is getting our hearts ready to be renewed by the good news of Christmas.
Tonight we will gather together with our family and enjoy the lighting of the first Advent candle. A simple table is set, with a few traditional baked goods and together we will read a few scriptures and talk about the meaning of 'waiting' and one excited grandchild will light the first candle.
Jesus stands at your door, knocking and waiting.
"Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me." Revelations 3:20
"Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us. Do you want to close the door or open it? The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth." D. Bonhoeffer
My prayer is that you can make Jesus the centerpiece of your heart during this Advent season.