Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year! We celebrate this as the "Holiday Season" or more specifically for many Christians, the "Christmas Season." It is the time to "Deck the Halls." We string lights, sing songs about Santa and Reindeer and the magic of a Christmas snow, and we set up displays of the stable where "the newborn king" would rest in a manger full of hay. We spend hours, not to mention dollars, buying gifts for everyone from our children to our best friends. We have parties, bake cookies, and plan a huge holiday feast, and then, the next thing we know, it is Dec. 26th, and it is all over, as quickly as it began. It is easy to get caught up in the tinsel and the excitement, and then we burn out. The excitement fades, and the new stuff we thought was the greatest gift ever becomes just another thing on a shelf collecting dust, or gets broken and thrown away within a few weeks. But, hey, that's what this season is all about right? And of course, we will put away all the decorations and then take them out again next November and do it all again.

Have you ever wondered if we are doing it right? Are we really doing justice to celebrating the birthday of Emmanuel, the one who would be God with Us? While all those around us want to get caught up in Christmas, perhaps we need to step back and remind ourselves that this season is not a season about what is, it is a season about anticipating what is to come. It is the season of Advent that we celebrate. It is the time of year when we look forward with great anticipation and hope, to the coming of Messiah, Emmanuel, Christ, both his first coming as a humble babe in the manger, and his second coming, when He will return in all his glory. 

At this time of year, we need to remember that as Christians we have a hope that the world does not understand, it is a hope that carries us beyond December 25th. We have peace that comes from within us, peace that is able to carry us through the toughest storms of this life. We have joy that is unspeakable. And of course we have love because He loved us first, and choose to come. These are things that are not meant to be present only in the season and be thrown away with the wrapping paper or be packed away until next year. They are meant to carry us through, year after year, season after season, until the day of the Second Advent, the day our faith will become sight. 

And what of the day, December 25th, you may be asking. Well, that day should be more than just a single day of celebration. In the early church tradition the season of Advent, or anticipation, led to a celebration which lasted for a full 12 Days known as Christmastide, or "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It is when carols should be sung to Christ the King, it is the time when gifts are given to commemorate the Epiphany, or the day the wise men saw the star and found the Child. So, let's take our time to anticipate the coming, enjoy the fullness of celebration of the King, and continue to carry the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love to a world that has been shrouded in darkness, as we bear His light. Celebrate from Advent to Epiphany, and beyond, until He comes again.

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