As always, Advent comes roaring in and we seem to be in the midst of a pile of things to do. Throughout this season, Included in my daily prayers and congregational prayers has the heading, "Reinbeck and Community." My prayers for all in the area is to be that the peace and joy of this season will be our walk together as the whole Christian Church on earth, will be anticipating the return of our Lord, Jesus Christ to take His whole Church with Him into the New Jerusalem to be with Him in the Heavens without spot, wrinkle or stain.
Already underway since before Halloween are the Christmas Wish Lists. The Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog used to be a key resource for colored pictures of hundreds of toys and thousands of items. With five of us brothers, there was some quarreling that would take place as we vied for the catalog. This was the secular preparation for Christmas so the gift givers could see the Christmas gifts we wanted most. In hindsight, Dad and Mom really didn't give us what we had on our lists. Yet, somehow, they surpassed our expectations. They knew us each very well.
In spiritual preparation, Christians enjoy singing the Christmas Hymn estimated to have been written as early as the 800's A.D., "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," understood to be one of the oldest hymns still beloved today. The hymn is a set of seven prayers that ponders the different names of the Lord in the Bible.
As you prepare for a joy-filled Christmas, try to keep your eyes and hearts focused on the fullness of joy you have by the undeserved love of God in the True Gift we celebrate: the Babe in the manger who is Christ the Lord. Most of you will be taking a stroll through the names of the Lord to that keep us grounded in the true meaning of "God With Us" singing, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. We prepare our hearts and minds for a joyful season that points to the greatest mystery ever known, i.e., the incarnate Son of God, who comes for you and for all, bringing life and salvation in the reaching of His hands 'for you.' The King of Kings who lies humbly in a manger bed, comes as the victor over sin and death. Jesus Christ surpasses all the wisdom, power and love the world has to offer.
As you see the gifts wrapped under the Christmas tree or peeking out of their hiding places to keep the curious from poking around, remember the absolute beauty and wonder of the ultimate gift of life and salvation the gift of forgiveness and life Jesus Christ purchased for us. Try not to let the rush and stress of sending out cards, preparing for a special celebration and all the parties and open houses, rob you of the peace our Heavenly Father sent for us in Bethlehem. May His years of teaching, healing and ministry of love keep you in peace and joy.
Not the most Christmas sounding verses in Scripture, yet a nice focus for preparing for the return of Christ, are the verses that are read at many funerals for good reason: 1. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4. You know the way to the place where I am going. 5. Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" 6. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:1-6)
A blessed Advent and Christmas to you and your family.