It is a question I will first hear near around the beginning of December, but as the 25th of the month approaches, the question comes my way more and more frequently. Are you ready for Christmas? For my family, Christmas is pretty low key. My wife’s side of the family is either on the other side of Canada, or the other side of the world in New Zealand. My mom and dad have passed away, and this year my 2 daughters are in New Zealand. Indeed Christmas this year for me will be very quiet.
For many people there are so many reasons not to be ready for Christmas. So much shopping, travelling, decorating, baking, cleaning, wrapping and visiting to do. So much to do, with so little time to do it. Thrown in the mix is parties to attend and events to plan. There are long lines, traffic, stress, delays and expectations. And when the 25th of December does roll around we are exhausted and stressed out. How can we de-stress? Is there a way to put away all the trappings of Christmas and rekindle a joy of Christmas?
The past four weeks at our church we have been preparing for Christmas (and taking the time to de-stress) by participating in what is known as “ADVENT“. Advent is the season four weeks before Christmas in which we prepare for the coming of Christ. It begins on Sunday nearest to 30th November. Advent is the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus and its name comes from the Latin word “adventus”, which means “coming”.
For hundreds and hundreds of years, believers all over the world have observed Advent. For four Sundays before Christmas Day, Christians have paused to reflect on the longing Israel had for their coming Messiah, and the joy we as Christians have knowing He is with us. Each Sunday we light a candle in what is known as an Advent Wreath. Each Sunday we focus on a new word to help us focus on the arrival of Jesus at Christmas. The 4 words are “Hope, Peace, Joy and Love”.
Each Sunday as a new candle is lit, the wreath becomes brighter and brighter with each candle burning. On Christmas Eve we light the centre candle which is the Christ Candle, a reminder that Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus says in John 8;12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life”
For the Christian, getting ready for Christmas is more than getting all the Christmas cards, shopping, baking, decorating, cleaning and visiting done. Consider that ancient spiritual tradition called Advent. It takes our mind off ourselves, focuses our mind on Christ, and truly prepares our heart for Christmas. And then all the fluff, trimmings and bling that we work so hard on before Christmas will lose its lustre. So are we ready for Christmas? I encourage you to attend a nearby Christmas Eve service (ours in Hillsdale will be held at 7:00 pm) or take a Bible and read the Christmas story of Luke 2. It will put your Christmas in a whole new perspective. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all!