This Sunday, December 1st, marked the beginning of the season of Advent—the four weeks of preparation for and anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Every year we order the observance of this special season in our church around a theme. This year our theme is Christmas Inside Out. As a season of preparation, Advent is something like the season of Lent. It is a time of introspection, prayer, study, and worship focused on the longing for the coming of Jesus into the world and for the hope is fulfilled in his birth. It is a time to think about what it means, in the words of Charles Wesley’s Christmas hymn, to “let every heart prepare him room.”
There is, however, more to Advent than that. It is a time to turn from the inside out. It is a time to get outside of ourselves—outside of our own concerns. As we move through this season together, I’ll lead us in our sanctuary worship to think about what this may mean for us in this season and beyond. We’ll be looking at moving from the inside out: outside of the trappings of the season, outside the expected and predictable, outside the walls (whatever the walls are), and outside the confines of the holiday season. Then, on Christmas Eve, we will celebrate that in Christ we experience God—not in some far-off realm called Heaven, but outside of Heaven—as “Emmanuel,” God with us.
This week I encourage you to read and think about our scripture readings from Titus 2:1-14. As you read it, what stands out for you? As you read it again, ask, “What does the coming of Jesus mean in my life?” As you read it a third time, ask, “How am I wrapped up in the trappings of the celebrations and what would it mean to observe this season outside of those trappings?”
I look forward to our faith journey together through Advent to Christmas and beyond.
Grace and Peace,