Advent: Hope, Joy, Love, Peace

This is the first week of Advent.  Advent is getting ready, preparing and expecting something special.  Are you getting ready for the birthday of our Savior Jesus Christ?  Churches all over the world are preparing for Advent which is the four Sundays before Christmas.  Many folks make an advent wreath from real or artificial pine.  The wreath is a circle which keeps going around and never ends.  Four purple candles are added to the center of the wreath and one white candle is added to represent Jesus who was born on Christmas day. Beginning on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas the candle of Hope is lit.  Hope is waiting for something you wish for.  The second Sunday prior to Christmas a candle is lit for Joy.  We are full of joy as we wait for Christmas Day and the celebration of Jesus Birthday.  Christmas is a time for hope, a time for joy and a time to express love.  The third Sunday is centered on love as the candle is lit. The fourth Sunday is centered on peace which is wished for all over the world. One may ask why purple candles are used for the four Sundays?  Purple represents royalty which represents our Lord and Savior.  The final candle which is white represents the purity of Jesus and we light the Jesus candle on Christmas.  Christmas is a time of sharing, a time of faith, a time for family and a time to work for peace in our hearts and the hearts of everyone all around the world.

As we prepare for Christmas, what are some of the things we hope for?  What are some of the joys we have to share?  How can we share our love with others?  What can we do to have peace in our lives, our homes, our communities, and our world? What are our expectations as we move closer to Christmas which is a time for sharing?  Maybe we can make a list of what we can do with Hope, Joy, Love and Peace.  Our lists might include ways we can bring hope to those who are distressed and in despair, those who have lost family members and feel no hope for the future.  Cards, phone calls, visits and checking up on special needs are a way of keeping hope alive.  We can spread joy with a smile, a hug, a compliment and time with our family and friends.  We can spread joy by participating in special events that can bring joy to all who work, worship or dine with family and friends.  Love is so special that we can show our love by taking the time to be with our children, our parents, our friends, our co-workers and even meeting new people and making new friends.  Love, Joy and Hope can be contagious when we make the effort to find ways to show how much we care for others.  Peace can be made with others when we find ways to communicate.  Peace is sharing, caring and making the effort to make a difference.  Finally, Hope, Joy, Love and Peace are the gifts we receive when we believe that a baby was born in a manger.  This special baby was sent by our Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He wanted us to find hope in Jesus and receive joy in the news that Jesus was sent to save us.  We can receive love from our Heavenly Father when we realize that He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to be born in a lowly manger to grow, to teach, to heal, to save and to welcome each person who accepts him.  Christ is Christmas and we can share this hope, this joy, this love and this peace with anyone who will listen.  What a gift!

The celebration of Christmas begins this week and many events will take place in our communities during the month of December.  Many churches will be sharing their Christmas programs and dinners. Organizations will be celebrating with special events and downtown Buckhannon will be open for wagon rides and other family events.  Chapel Hill United Methodist Church will be having their Christmas Cantata on Sunday Dec. 8 at 10:30 for worship and again at 7 p.m. for an evening performance. 

The Cantata is “God Came Near” and will be presented by the Chancel Choir as well as special solos, duets and music by various guests. Everyone is invited to share in this story of Christmas. If you do not wish to bake cookies or make candy, Chapel Hill will have their candy and cookie dough sale this coming week end.  The First UMC will hold their cookie walk the same day.  You won’t want to miss the homemade cookies and candy.  These are just two of the special places to purchase goodies.

Watch for more special programs and events that will be posted in the newspaper calendar. There will be a Christmas dinner on Christmas day at Chapel Hill.  Several hundred attended the Thanksgiving dinner.  You and your family are welcome to attend the dinner on Christmas day.  For more information on the dinner call Chapel Hill or the Parish House.

I leave you with these thoughts shared for the Christmas season.

Christmas is not as much about opening presents as opening our hearts.  Christmas is the tenderness for the past, courage for the present and hope for the future.  It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal and that every path may lead to peace.  Christmas is music….I heard the bells on Christmas day, their old familiar carols play and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth good will to men.

Christmas gifts:  To your enemy- forgiveness; To your opponent- tolerance; To a friend- your heart; To a customer – service; To every child- a good example - To oneself – respect

May Christmas give us the gladness of Christmas which is Hope; the spirit of Christmas which is Peace and the heart of Christmas which is Love.    Advent has begun and may we remember the expectation of the reason for the season which is Christ.