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— A couple of years ago a local radio station was carrying an ad from a business which was promoting a 12 Days of Christmas Event.

My first thought was isn’t this remarkable that a secular business is observing the Twelve Days of Christmas whereas many churches do not! Then I realized that the promotion was not for the 12 days of the Christmas season, it was a sort of countdown leading up to Christmas Day. What they had in mind was a Last 12 Days “before” Christmas shopping spree. That may help get Christmas shopping done, but it does little to help a person or family really get ready for Christmas.

As November advances through Thanksgiving, it does become time to get ready for Christmas. For many of the stores, it means the arrival of Black Friday and the promotion of the most frenzied siege of shopping for the year, in hopes of achieving the best bottom line possible. For some folks, it means making lists, checking them twice, being sure we haven’t forgotten someone we must buy gifts for; thinking what we could get to please so and so, what can we get for the ones who have everything, and wondering how we are going to get ready for all the Christmas gatherings, parties, and so on. We have so many ideas out there about how to get ready for Christmas, how to get through Christmas without going crazy, and so on.

The Church has long believed in getting ready for Christmas, but obviously not in the sense described above. If Christmas is to be a time of celebration, appreciation, joyful sharing, and anticipation, then something needs to happen which will refocus the season, refocus our preoccupations, refocus our busyness, and refocus us spiritually.

For that to happen, there needs to be time reserved for contemplating what Christmas is about.

For Christians, Christmas is not just a holiday respite from the daily drudgeries, not just a spate of hilarity and party cheer to temporarily obscure the dreariness of life. Christmas is about recognizing and celebrating that the Creator of all things has acted to heal the brokenness of his people through His beloved Son. It is about opening hearts to experience theabundant grace of the living and loving God. It is about the discovery of real light in the midst of the darkness and futility of the world.

One way I enjoy getting ready for Christmas in church is in observing the Advent season, which involves four Sundays before Christmas, with the lighting of the candles of the Advent wreath each Sunday and reading related Scriptures.

There are many ways of doing this. I mention only one of them here.

For Nov. 29, we plan to light the first candle as the prophet’s candle, Jeremiah 23:5-6. This reminds us that the coming of Jesus as the Christ was prophesied beforehand, and anticipated by God’s people. We are encouraged to anticipate and to joy in his coming.

On Dec. 6, we will light the second candle as the Bethlehem Candle, Micah 5:2-4. This reminds us that no place in his world is small and insignificant to God. Even not prominent and unacclaimed places may shine with the glory of God.

On Dec. 13, we light the third candle as the Angel’s-Shepherd’s Candle, Luke 2:8-20. The highest heaven and the humblest of earth have joy in the gift of the Christ child.

On the Sunday before Christmas, Dec. 20, we light the Wise Men’s Candle, Matthew 2:1-12. The message of Christmas is for both Jew and Gentile, reaching out all across the world, bringing hope, transformation, wholeness and peace to all peoples everywhere.

Then, on Christmas, we light the Christ Candle, celebrating the gift of salvation and reconciliation through Jesus, God’s Son, our Lord. That begins the Church’s Christmas Season, 12 days from Dec. 25 to Jan.

6, celebrating the coming of the Lord’s Christ, the hope of the world. He came to us as a baby in a manger; He comes to us in the Spirit of holy love; He will come triumphant in glory!

Here are several Scriptures that readers may find valuable during both the Advent and Christmas seasons: Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7; Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 52:7-10; John 1:1-18; Isaiah 40:1-11; Isaiah 60:1-3; Luke 1:1-80; Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-12. I Thessalonians 3:11-13; Hebrews 1:1-4; Philippians 2:1-11; Philippians 4:4-9; I Thessalonians 5:9-11, 23-24.

Contact Jerry Nichols by e-mail at joe369@centurytel.

net, or call 621-1621.

Church, Pages 2 on 12/02/2009

Print Headline: Pastor’s Corner Getting ready for Christmas

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