Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent Sunday

Wow!  Did it seem like this last week was a blur and frenzy of activity, only to realize now that another season of busy-ness is upon us?  The planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning that takes place before the guests arrive on Thanksgiving...the fun, fellowship and full stomachs that follow....and then the day after when we stop to breathe?  Unless, of course, you ventured out to take on the masses of shoppers for Black Friday....of which I confess, I do not do.  That part of Thanksgiving week I can definitely do without.  I prefer to stay at home and out of the parking lots :)

And now....we enter into the weeks of preparing for Christmas.  It's was absolutely amazing to me to hear of those who already had their tree up and house decorated by the day after Thanksgiving!! (some even before!)   That tells me this is a season most people love and look forward to.  There is something about the sights, sounds and smells of these coming weeks that brings an anticipation to our hearts of the arrival of family, friends and, yes, presents :)  But even more so, for the believer, we greatly anticipate one of our most joyous seasons of celebration...the birth of our Savior.  

Today is the beginning of the Advent season.  A season beginning anywhere from twenty-two days to twenty-eight days before Christmas of spiritually preparing our hearts and minds to the advent of Christ upon our earth.  This is a church tradition that began in our Western world around the tenth century.  I knew nothing of this tradition growing up, but my early adult years of living in Europe held weeks of enjoying this special and memorable time before Christmas.  Rich in tradition and meaning, it not only highlighted the season for me, but made the holidays so much more personal than presents and decorations.  I love this time of year, but I love what it means much more.

A wreath is the symbol around which we celebrated.  The greenery was adorned in a circle into which four candles are inserted.  A fifth candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve, is placed in the center.  The candles can be any color, but traditional colors are white, purple or blue.  In another post I will expound on the meaning of the soon as I find my earlier notes which are packed inside my own (artificial, but beautifully crafted wooden) advent wreath....still in storage as I have yet to pull out the boxes to decorate...that comes this next week :)

Each Sunday, beginning with the fourth Sunday before Christmas usually on or nearest to November 30), a candle is lit and a time of meditation on the advent of Christ.   We celebrate and ponder the Advent of the Lord in the flesh at Christmas, His Advent in Word and Spirit, and the final Advent when He will return bodily in all His glory.

Today, Isaiah 9:2-6 brings life to us...

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned...
For to us a child is born,
to us a Son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And He will be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Think about darkness.  Our power went out week before last for about 2 hours at the beginning of dusk, so this is fresh to me, and I was alone in the house at the time :(  It is black, dark and silent.  When it is really dark, it is so incredibly silent.  And even the slightest noise can bring your imagination alive with fear. You move around looking for candles or a flashlight, bumping into things, possibly getting hurt because you can't see to live or move.   But when the lights come on, you blink with wonder and relief, and think "now I can live again, move around and get on with life".  

Spiritually speaking, isn't that the way it is with us?  We walk around in darkness, stumbling to find our way, but when the Light of Jesus comes on...enters our life...our eyes adjust, we breathe, and we can finally live and see where we are going.  JESUS is the light that helps us to SEE!  

As we reflect on the birth of this Child that makes such a difference, also is the thought that when a baby comes on the scene, all quietness flees as well!  There is noise, flurry of activity, life abounds!  A baby means LIFE!

As you begin this very busy and hectic season that most of us are entering, take a moment....every Sunday, or at the beginning of each packed and full day, to reflect on the Light that has entered (or wants to enter) your life.  This Christmas season will take on new meaning as you SEE  your way through to the birth of the Savior of the world.

Enjoy this first Advent Sunday, light a candle if you can,  and join me in the coming days and weeks as I reflect on meaning, history, tradition and all the joys of the season.  This will be a fun ride....maybe I can find a sleigh, some reindeer and snow to accompany us :)


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