The angels said to the shepherds “peace on earth, goodwill to men” that night Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But many of us do not feel like Christmastime is peaceful or filled with goodwill. In fact many of us are afraid that we will have what Elvis Presley sang about, “A Blue Christmas”.
Or we get so harried by the shopping, the traffic, the preparations, decorations, and expenditure of money we don’t have, that we end up frazzled. Worse, we can truly get stressed out.
So how do we navigate the intensity of Christmas? I would encourage you to participate in Advent, which begins this coming Sunday, November 29. Advent is a four-week preparation time that ancient Christians created to help disciples of Jesus prepare themselves for the celebration of his birth. Nowhere does the Bible teach about Advent. But in the same way that the Bible doesn’t teach about church buildings and Sunday morning worship services, which are also man-made, Advent can be a wonderful tool to help us deal with all the stress of the holidays.
Each Sunday during Advent at Faith Church begin worship with the lighting of the Advent Wreath candles, and short reading and prayer designed to help us prepare for Worship. That brief ceremony is a taste of a much larger personal emphasis that we can place on Advent. Advent, itself, means “arrival or coming”. It refers to the coming of the King. The entrance of Jesus into our world. When we celebrate Advent we are preparing ourselves for the coming of the King. How, then, should we prepare?
If you look on the communion table, or the front the cover of our bulletin, we display the color of Advent, which is purple. Three of the four advent candles are purple. This color gives us a clue for how to prepare ourselves to worship the King. Purple is the color of a bruise. A bruise hurts, but the purplish, painful spot reminds us that after injury, healing is taking place. During Advent we face the injury of our sins, and with a penitent heart, we confess our sins, and ask Jesus to heal us. Advent is like a bruise on our spiritual lives, helping us to heal so that when we gather for worship on Christmas Eve, we will erupt in praise that our Savior has been born!
So rather than allow yourself to get sucked into the frenzied vortex of Christmas, I urge you to prayerfully slow down and examine your lives by entering into the season of Advent.