Dear Peace Church Family,
When did you see your first Christmas decoration this year?
When did you hear your first Christmas carol?
For many of us, it happened in a store or shop. Jason and I were buying shower curtains and towels for our new home at the beginning of July when he suddenly stopped looking through the stock of a particular design to ask, â€œIs this a Christmas song?â€ His ears were not deceiving him! It was, indeed, a Christmas carol. In the world of retail, thereâ€™s motivation to push us into the Christmas season as early as possible. Simply put, more holiday shopping days equates to more sales.
Many people can point to examples of how weâ€™ve lost the meaning of Christmas and the whole holiday season in the hustle and bustle of the season. Very often, the holiday race to complete our to-do lists, to fill up our calendars, to take the perfect family photos, and to buy the best gifts leaves us feeling disillusioned, cranky, and uninspired as we maneuver through the accompanying traffic, crowds, and credit card debt.
If Jesus came to bring us freedom, why does the season where we celebrate his birth seem so oppressive and overwhelming?
In the church, we have an answer for this hustle-bustle-chaos. That answer is Advent.
Advent is a time of waiting, of contemplating, and of prayer and Advent is an invitation to worship, study, and fellowship with other disciples. This year Advent is 23 days long, and it is an opportunity to find our identity in the slow-paced journey toward the stable. At Peace in this season, on Sunday mornings in our Advent sermons we will journey with the prophets who spoke of their yearning for a Messiah hundreds of years before he would be born; on Thursday mornings at Bible Study we will journey with Mary, an ordinary young woman who found herself in extraordinary circumstances; in each opportunity for worship and prayer, we will journey with each other as we contemplate the source of our hope and joy in the midst of this busy season.
The real beauty of Advent is that it means God has not gifted us with presents, but with his very real presence in Jesus, the one called Emmanuel, which means â€œGod with us.â€ That gives us hope and freedom in a month that threatens to steal our joy and peace.
This newsletter is full of invitations and opportunities for you to engage in the Advent practices of worship, study, prayer, and yes–even celebration! Read it carefully and be sure to hold space on your calendar this season for these practices and opportunities.
May the light of Christ meet you in your Advent journey,