Preparing for Christmas
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord…’”
Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23
The Scriptures above make it pretty clear that we are to prepare for the coming of the Lord. We have spent the last three weeks in Matthew 25 talking/studying/preaching about its importance. As you enter the sanctuary this Sunday, you will notice that our church angels have spent a lot of time and have gone into great detail preparing for this season of Christmas we call Advent.
Advent is a season of four weeks including four Sundays. Advent derives from a Latin word that means “coming.” The season proclaims the comings of the Christ—whose birth we prepare to celebrate once again, who comes continually in Word and Spirit, and whose return in final victory we anticipate. Each year Advent calls the community of faith to prepare for these comings.
As you enter the church and sanctuary this Sunday, I want to invite you to pay attention to the decorations. They all have meaning. In ancient times the cedar tree was revered as the tree of royalty. It also signified immortality and was used for purification. The cedar branch/tree is a sign of Christ, who reigns as King for ever, and whose coming, in justice and righteousness, will purify our hearts. Because the needles of pine and fir trees appear not to die each season, the ancients saw them as signs of things that last for ever. Isaiah tells us that there will be no end to the reign of the Messiah. Therefore, we hang wreaths of evergreen shaped in a circle, which itself has no end, to signify the eternal reign of Jesus, the Christ. In ancient times, holly and ivy were considered signs of Christ’s passion. Their prickly leaves suggested the crown of thorns, the red berries the blood of the Savior, and the bitter bark the drink offered to Jesus on the cross. We hang the holly and ivy and rejoice in the coming of Jesus, our Savior. The lighted Christmas tree brings to mind the One who brings light to our darkness, healing to our brokenness, and peace to all who receive him. The Advent candles represent Christ as our source of our Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace—and His arrival with the larger white candle in the center.
As you enjoy the preparation for Christmas in our sanctuary, I pray you are preparing your hearts and minds for the coming of Christ in your own home and life.
Your Pastor & Friend, Harrell
(Adapted from The United Methodist Book of Worship)
Preparing for Christmas