In the past, Eileen and I most often put up our Christmas tree around November 1st. Yes, you read that right! We do not wait until after Thanksgiving. We instead decorate when we feel ready to. When the time comes, we get out the decorations. We turn on some Christmas music and make some hot chocolate. Some of you may be wondering why we do not wait to decorate. Well, there are a few different reasons. First, Eileen and I love decorating for all occasions. Secondly, we know that as it gets closer to Christmas that we will be busier. We both work in the Church. When we are decorating, we want to enjoy it and cherish that time as a family. We do not want to feel like we are in a rush. Lastly, we sometimes just feel like we need to do it, that we need to do it for our own well-being. It turns out that we were not the only ones that feel this way. I have seen countless people on Facebook who have decided to put up their Christmas decorations early. Some of them were people who in the past would not have dared to put up their tree before Thanksgiving. However, they did it because they needed to. We all needed some hope.
On November 27th, the Church season of Advent starts, and it lasts all the way until Christmas. Advent has many different themes. One of those themes is “hope.” It is a hope that Christ is coming. That Christ comes in flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily and in glory in the end of time. It is a hope that not only points to Christ’s birth, but also his death and resurrection. In this hope, we are called to a state of waiting and preparation. We must wait and prepare for Christ. This preparatory waiting may look different for all of us. Some may prepare by praying or meditation. While others may turn to the deep reflection and reading of scripture. We all have our own spiritual practices that we use to get closer to God. These practices help us to wait and invite us into preparation. They help us to get into the right mindset to watch for the coming of Christ. So, we have to do what we need to in this state to be prepared, and sometimes that means doing things that give us hope or give us rest. These things may not necessarily be religious practices, but they are things that put us in the mindset to do these religious practices. This may mean putting up the Christmas tree early. It may mean sitting down and reading a book. It could be anything! So, as we are waiting and preparing for Christ, we need to remember to rest so that we can truly prepare. May the God of hope fill you with peace, joy, and rest this holiday season. Amen.
Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Ethan Doan