November 29 – HOPE

Do you notice anything different in here today?  Decorations are up, banners are changed, advent candles are being lit…  This is the time when we start preparing for Christmas.  But no matter how ready we are, Christmas is not going to come any sooner.  These four weeks of Advent are all about preparing and waiting.

I thought that we could do some preparing together – something that will take four weeks to get done.  Let’s put together our Christmas nativity scene.  Today we’ll start with the stable only.  When it sits there empty, it looks so full of hope and possibility.  Hope for what is to come.  Hope for what the season will bring.  Hope for what Jesus will mean to the world.

Dear God.  Thank you for this season of waiting and preparing and HOPE.  Amen.


December 6 – PEACE

Last week we started to build our nativity scene with the empty stable.  Today, let’s add a few characters – Mary, Joseph and the donkey.

Gosh, it seems like a long way to go.  They were headed to Bethlehem to be counted on the census.  We have a census here every year too.  The counters check in at each house to find out what kind of family lives there.  Some families have a mom, a dad, and 2.5 children.  But that’s not the only kind of family.  Some grandparents raise children.  Some kids are adopted.  Some families live in two separate homes.  You know, some people refer to their pets as children.  Maybe Mary and Joseph’s donkey was named Amos and they considered him a part of their family.

Many people will be gathering with family over the Christmas holidays.  Whatever that family looks like for you – I hope that your visits have more peace than arguments.

Dear God.  Thank you for this season of waiting and preparing and PEACE.  Amen.


December 13 – JOY

Today, we add a few more pieces to our nativity scene – the shepherds.  Look at these guys: do they look very happy to you?  I don’t think that they had a lot to be excited about it their lives.

A shepherd’s job is to make sure that sheep don’t run away.  Really, their job is to watch the sheep eat grass all day.  That sounds boooring.  It’s like watching paint dry.  Or waiting for the kettle to boil.

There are probably things in the life of a shepherd that would make him happy.  I bet he would smile if he found some really choice shade on a hot day.  He would probably be glad to find a cool stream from which to drink.  But they never would have experienced the JOY that came with the Good News of Jesus’ birth delivered by angels.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like for their dull, boring evening to be interrupted by a choir of angels announcing the birth of a new king.

I hope that as we go about our day-to-day lives, we can find joy in the story of Jesus’ birth just like those shepherds did so long ago.

Dear God.  Thank you for this season of waiting and preparing and JOY.  Amen.


December 20 – LOVE

This is the last Sunday before Christmas.  We talked about hope and the hope we have for the empty stable.  We talked about peace and the quiet peace that we wish for in our families.  We talked about joy and the pure joy that we feel in knowing that God is with us in the person of Jesus.

Today we talk about love and add the last three figures to our nativity scene.  These three wise men showed love for a baby that they had never met and with whom they had no family connection.  They showed their love by travelling such a long way to meet Jesus.  They showed their love by bringing elaborate, expensive gifts fit for a king.  They showed their love by travelling home by a different route when they learned that another king was jealous and would be unkind to Jesus if he knew the baby’s whereabouts.  What love they showed for a tiny baby who they didn’t know!

Let us travel through the Christmas season giving the gift of ourselves and our time – not just to our family and friends, but to children and strangers and kings alike.

Dear God.  Thank you for this season of waiting and preparing and LOVE.  Amen.