Summary: 1st in Advent Series about Christmas Gifts
So often we go to see the beautiful Christmas lights, we see the National Christmas Tree lit on television, and look at the Christmas scenes in store windows, and as we look at them we say, inside of ourselves, "Why am I not in the Christmas spirit? I used to be excited when I was a child. I just don’t have the same wonder and the same mystery as I did as a child."
If you are feeling that way, you need to go on a journey called Advent. There’s a reason you don’t feel the same mystery. It’s because you don’t have the mystery and the wonder inside of you. If it’s missing even just a little bit, you need to fill yourself back up again. The way you do that is not just by looking at the snow or the Christmas lights--it has to develop from within. Then, from within, when we perceive that wonder can be given anew by God, all the activity outside of you becomes wonderful and magic.
The Advent wreath is round and represents the spiritual journey as a process without end. It’s evergreen represents eternal life. Something is happening here at Christmas time--a birth. It’s a coming. It’s a celebration. Every week of the Advent season we light one candle.
This year, we will light the purple candles for the first three weeks. Then on the fourth Sunday of Advent the candle gets lighter in preparation (pink) for the coming of the Christ. Then on Christmas Eve we light the white candle representing the Babe born in Bethlehem.
It’s the same way in our lives—some things can seem dark; you can feel numb because of some of the things that have happened to you recently or even in the distant past. But when you get into the spirit of Christmas and allow the magic of Christ to work again inside of you, it is powerful!
Allow the Spirit of Christ to be reborn in you, and everything takes on a new wonder, it becomes awesome!
Do you remember the play from a few years ago, Annie, where she sang in the middle of the Depression, "The sun will come out tomorrow"? It is a song about Hope.
That plays setting was during the Great Depression. There can be many great depressions inside of our lives. We can be totally consumed by depression or we can have it only in the one area of our lives.. We want to find that magic ingredient, the magic recipe, to make everything good again, but we don’t know how. It seems like over the years we’ve lost the ability.
In Ephesians 3:11-12 it says, This was his plan from all eternity, and it has now been carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God’s presence, assured of his glad welcome.
Those are some of my favorite words in the Bible—assured of God’s glad welcome.
Let’s suppose you work for a company. You are on a special project in which you have to step out in faith and take risks, but you are assured of the CEO’s glad welcome because you have an open door policy with the president of that corporation. You know that no matter how much you have to step out on faith, you can go to the president and say, "Hey, is this all right? Am I taking the right action? Am I doing the right thing?"
Think about this in your life. This is why we’re here. We’re to think and rethink and rethink Christianity and make God real, to make Christmas real inside of us. Today as you build the Christmas season, as you put one block on this brand new house you’re building in the nativity scene inside of you, you are going to have hope. Nothing in your life right now is going to drag you down so much that you can’t have hope. Why? Because you have a guarantee of God’s glad welcome to you. At any moment, no matter how tough the day is or how overwhelming it is to the human, we have a greater power than ourselves to call upon.
The apostle Paul wrote several letters to the churches. These letters make up most of the New Testament. The reason he did this was because the churches were feeling great fear and anxiety.
It’s no different today. Churches are people, and people do still experience fear and anxiety. It’s a natural feeling because there are a lot of things that happen in life that we need to overcome. But in these letters, Paul continually told the early church people to hope in Christ and to step out on faith. He said that this is the type of hope that transcends mere wishful thinking. It’s a hope that springs eternal—just as the circle of our Advent wreath reminds us of the eternal hope.