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Christmas in a Nutshell...come break it open with me!

iStock-1141535919 Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow!

 Life has not been easy for any of us in this covid-ridden world, a new variant announced the minute the old one has run its course, and the in-house fighting between the vaccinated and unvaccinated at the workplace, between good friends, and even within families. Satan is delighted with the division this is causing. And so, I propose we take the focus off the negative and intentionally breath in the truth of the advent season. I promise…joy will follow.

The past few years I have found increased joy in celebrating the season with advent candles and what they represent. I would like to share this with you and encourage you to join in the celebration.

First week of Advent…The 'Prophets Candle', symbolizes HOPE. (If you missed this at the beginning of December you can light the four candles starting four days prior to Christmas day… and the fifth on Christmas day. This will be just as impactful.)

As we light this candle, we reflect upon the brave Old Testament patriarchs who were Christ's ancestors and who foretold His arrival. This candle symbolizes the hope of the Messiah who came as a babe, and the hope of our risen King who will come again riding on a white horse. The word of God heralds the good news… King Jesus has this world in His hands. Nothing (even Covid) comes as a surprise to Him. All is as He predicted in Matthew 24, it is a sign for all of us to look up and be ready for His return.

Seven hundred years before Christ was born the prophet Isaiah prophetically spoke these words. Is. 7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." This leads into…

Advent candle number two, the 'Bethlehem Candle,' which symbolizes FAITH.

I think about what it must have felt like for the scared young virgin—Mary, to be pregnant out of wedlock, and for a man of integrity—Joseph, (no more than a boy himself) to marry her despite the culturally unthinkable circumstances. What faith it took them both to embrace Isisah 7:14 and just as predicted the birth of Jesus came to pass in the little town of Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2 Says the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and in Matt. 2:1-6 this prophecy is fulfilled.)

D.L. Moody says it best. "Faith is the gift of God. So is the air, but you have to breathe it; so is bread, but you have to eat it; so is water but you have to drink it."1 His point is that faith does not happen by osmosis. We must inhale faith, so we read the word of God to breathe it in. We pray and commune with God to practise it. We live life in the hope that others will see Jesus and be inspired to taste of it. Increasing faith in God is the key to joy the next advent candle. It is that dangling price tag on that must have gift for Christmas…free to the faithful.

Advent candle three is the 'Shepherd's Candle', which symbolizes JOY.

Luke 2:8-14 "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great JOY which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

After these past two years of constant turmoil, who doesn't need more joy? I'm not referring to happiness (which depends on good happenings) I am talking about joy and peace no matter what is happening around us. John 16:24 Jesus invites… "Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." Joy is but one decision away…and that is the decision to pray and ask for it. I've put this to the test over and over as my mind teeters on the precipice of fear, or my heart is saddened by the division Satan is creating. Joy comes softly in quiet moments of reflection with my Jesus. It is an intentional pursuit. I breathe in the…good tidings of great Joy. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to our broken world.

As we light the flame of the fourth advent candle…The 'Angel's Candle' LOVE, consider how the angels had a front row seat to the love that came into this world in the form of a baby, who grew to be a man, suffered and died, rose from the dead, and so impacted the world that over 2000 years later the name of Jesus Christ is the most powerful name known to man.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, the whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:16

The Angel's Candle signifies the love of Jesus Christ which the angels know intimately. Tens of thousands of angels gather around the throne in heaven, at this moment. They continuously praise God, "Saying with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing. …Blessings and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne And to the Lamb forever and ever!" Rev. 5:12,13

Christmas day I invite you to join with me as we light the final candle in the middle of our wreath representing JESUS CHRIST. May we let nothing distract from this real reason for the season. It's not about ribbons and bows, or stockings hung by the fire for the fictitious Santa Claus to fill. (Trust me when I say how damaging this concept of Santa is to a marginalized child that hears the message that all she has to do is be good to get a present from Santa. This already poor, beaten down, unloved child grasps at the possibility there is something happy to believe in, only to wake up Christmas morning to receive nothing more than the abuse she has received every other day. The message that she is no good, and a bad child is only reinforced. So, yes, the wording of a fictitious Santa Claus I say without reservation.) Christmas is also not about a delicious turkey dinner, or even the blessing of family…it is about a Babe born in a manger, humble and low. The Savior of this world called Wonderful. The Mighty God. The Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace.

Read John 1:14 with me "And the Word (another name for Jesus Christ) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Now read Luke 2:1-40 the Christmas story.

The advent season is wrapped up in the wonderful truth of hope, faith, joy, and love because of Jesus Christ. Join the angels and share this resounding message of good tidings and great joy—He has come, and He will come again.

Take a moment to listen to this wonderful song done by Carrie Underwood and Michael W. Smith. All Is Well. In this world where things do not feel well...the words of this song heralds truth and brings such peace. Join in the Hallelujah! God is in control.

All Scripture is taken from the NKJV

1 Dwight L. Moody, The Way to God (New York: Cosimo, Inc.,2005), 53.

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