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 Love. We are full of love as we wait for Christmas Day and the celebration of Jesus’ Birthday. The third Sunday is centered on joy as the candle is lit in expectation of what is about to happen. 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 hope, a time of faith, a time for expressing love and joy with family and friends. Christmas is a special 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? How can we share our love with others? What are some of the joys we share? 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, Love, Joy and Peace. Our lists might include ways we can bring hope to those who are distressed and in despair. Maybe we can show love to those who have lost family members and feel no hope for the future. Cards, phone calls, visits and support are a way of keeping hope alive and showing our love to others. 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. Hope, Love, Joy and Peace 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, Love, Joy 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 love, this joy and this peace with anyone who will listen. What a gift!
The celebration of Christmas begins this week. Many events will take place in our communities during the month of December. Many churches will be sharing their Christmas programs and dinners. Chapel Hill United Methodist Church will be having their Christmas Cantata on Sunday, December 5th at 10:30 a.m. for worship and again at 7:00 p.m. for an evening performance. The Cantata is “The Road to Bethlehem: A Journey to the Newborn King” and will be presented by the Chancel Choir as well as special music by various guests. Everyone is invited to share in this story of Christmas. 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. You and your family are welcome to pick up 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 expectation of Hope; the heart of Christmas which is Love, the excitement of Christmas which is Joy and the spirit of Christmas which is Peace. Advent has begun and may we remember the expectation of the reason for the season which is Christ. We are to be the light in the world on any given day for those who need us. Let our lights shine this Advent season and make the theme of HOPE, LOVE, JOY AND PEACE be seen in us as we go out into the world with the light of Jesus Christ.