What comes to mind when you think about preparing for Christmas? Is there a ticker tape to-do list that runs through your head?
Buy the gifts…wrap the gifts…bake the cookies…decorate the tree…cook the turkey…hang the stockings…send the Christmas cards…etc., etc., etc.
Sometimes it seems like the chaos doesn’t end until we fall into bed exhausted at the end of Christmas day.
Of course, all of those things are part of what makes the Christmas season the most wonderful time of the year. Spending time with family and friends, choosing just the right gift to make someone smile, and gathering around a table with loved ones are more than just things to check off a list. They’re the traditions that keep us together year after year. And yes, they can also be a little bit stressful sometimes.
In anticipation of that, this year, we’d like to invite you to begin a new tradition with us here at PCC, and it’s one that you may not be familiar with yet: Advent. Advent is the season leading up to Christmas—a time of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
This is a different way to prepare for Christmas. One that involves slowing down, reflecting, and remembering. One that invites us to pause and consider how Jesus came to earth as a baby to live a perfect life and ultimately give Himself up as a sacrifice for us. For you. Jesus’ birth at Christmas is the beginning of the amazing gift of life that He offers to each one of us.
To help us remember, we’ll light four candles to symbolize hope, love, joy and peace. Traditionally, the advent wreath consists of three purple candles and one pink. Some also have a white candle in the center called the Christ candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve.
On this first Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Hope. This candle symbolizes a shining light in anticipation of the coming of Jesus. Also called the “Prophecy Candle,” it looks ahead to Jesus giving his life and represents God’s forgiveness of our sins, while the candle’s color, purple, is associated with prayer, contemplation, repentance and, of course, hope.
We hope you’ll join us for this season of Advent as we prepare our hearts and minds for the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. If you can, set aside some time each day this week to reflect on the hope we have in Jesus. Here are some ways to do that:
- Read the story of Jesus’ birth to have it in your heart and mind as we journey towards Christmas. You can read it here.
- Take a walk outside and think about the hope offered to us in Jesus. Spend time in prayer thanking God for this amazing gift.
- Think of a way you can offer hope to someone else—write a card, make a phone call, take a meal, invite a friend to church.
- Wake up a few minutes early and listen to “Hope Has a Name”. Listen here. Take the words with you into your day and live them out. “I bow my life, I fix my eyes on Christ my King!”
- Make eye contact with the people you come across and offer them the hope of this Christmas season with a smile. Sometimes the kindness of a stranger is all it takes to turn someone’s day around.