Last weekend our pastor marked the first Sunday in Advent by giving an inspiring sermon about celebrating this special season.
For those who are unfamiliar, Advent is the name of the season just prior to Christmas. Many, but not all, Christian churches observe the season. But some Christ followers don’t use that jargon.
Anyhow, our pastor normally gives pretty good sermons, but this was a particularly good one. My husband and I get repulsed by the way our society observe the time leading up to Christmas. It is bad enough that Christ’s name and birth are exploited for commercial profit. But instead of embracing Christian values, we seem to embrace the most grotesque of secular values. Instead of focusing on our love for God whom we cannot see with human eyes, we emphasize the accumulation of material goods we can touch. Instead of expressing love for our human brothers and sisters, we pepper spray or stampede them to get cheap electronics or other merchandise. Instead of being grateful for and being good stewards of God’s gift to us of his creation, at this time of year we actually consume more of those finite resources and create more trash for the landfills. It is horrifying, and I admit that my husband and I get discouraged at this time of year as a result.
But our pastor’s sermon last weekend was just what we needed. She is a widow with a grown son. Though this could be a time of loneliness for her, she confessed that it is her favorite time of year. She spoke about two sets of friends of hers. One was a person who was so cynical and jaded that he couldn’t enjoy the season. The other was a couple who in two separate tragic events lost both of their children this past year. Our pastor noted that none of us knows how much time we are on this Earth, each day is a gift. We can spend it being cynical or embracing the essence of the Advent season, which is hope. She encouraged us to take the latter approach and celebrate all that is good about the season.
The next day our family was inspired. We got up and got out our Advent wreath to put it to good use. We put up our little Christmas tree, which is about the size of a Charlie Brown tree but in better shape. It is small, but we enjoy decorating it with ornaments our kids have made, ornaments we’ve been given and ornaments the grandparents used to use when my husband and I were kids. In the afternoon, we made Christmas cookies, then delivered them to friends and neighbors. It was a fabulous day!
It was not so much the things we did, but the spirit of the day that really made a difference. The things we did were pretty simple, but we were together and enjoyed the gift of each other’s company. Life is finite, none of us knows how many Christmases we will get. It is important to enjoy each one as the gift it is.
Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”