Dear Fellow Children of God,
Do you remember the excitement of Christmas as a child? That excitement did not just come from receiving presents on Christmas day. Waiting also caused its own excitement. There was an anticipation, a sense of expectation, a sense of hope, that came from waiting for that special day and for its wonderful celebration. People used to talk about having “the Christmas spirit.” I believe the excitement of the preparation for the Christmas celebration and all that means was part of that “Christmas spirit”.
Traditional Christians don’t just go from Thanksgiving (or Halloween like in the stores) to Christmas. We celebrate a season of Advent for four Sundays before Christmas. Advent comes from Latin words meaning “he comes to us.” Advent is that time of anticipation, of excitement even, that Jesus is coming.
In worship we reflect that waiting for Jesus and that excited anticipation with the advent wreath. Each week of the four Sundays in Advent we light one more candle on the wreath. On the first week of Advent we light the candle of hope. Then on the second Sunday we light the candle of faith, then the candle of joy on the third week, and the candle of love on the fourth week. Finally, on Christmas we light that white CHRISTmas candle in the middle of the wreath celebrating that Jesus has at last come. Advent is the time we wait with hope and anticipation for Jesus.
Sometimes waiting can be difficult. We all know what it means to be impatient. But, there is good reason to celebrate Advent and to wait on celebrating Christmas. For one thing, historically God’s people waited a really long time for the Messiah to finally come. God promised Adam and Eve that He would send someone to defeat their enemy, the devil. They hoped the Savior would come in their lifetime. But Adam and Eve, and all the Old Testament people of faith, waited hundreds and thousands of years trusting in God, for the Messiah to come.
We also celebrate Advent because, in a sense, we are still waiting. We are waiting for Jesus to come again. While Jesus did come that first Christmas, while He did die and rise to defeat sin and Satan and death, we have not yet fully received God’s kingdom of heaven. Look at the pain and troubles and death in the world around us today. So, we are still waiting for Jesus to come again and we are waiting for all the victory and joy He will bring.
We may not like to wait, but ultimately there are some things worth waiting for. Sometimes the waiting, though it may seem difficult, or even painful, points us to how precious and important the object of our waiting is. Advent points us to God’s promise that He gives Himself, His help and strength, His righteousness, love, and grace. God gives Himself and life with Him forever for all who accept Jesus in faith.
Christmas is right around the corner. But, FIRST, we celebrate Advent. We wait for, we anticipate, and we are even excited that Jesus has not only come once, but that He will come again. The season of Advent reminds us that Jesus is worth waiting for.
A Child of God, Waiting in Hope and Anticipation for Jesus,
P.S. My second day of ice fishing this year, this past Monday, was a good day on the ice. https://goo.gl/photos/yRYLWft4YgdirWo59
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.