Lee Harder, senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas greeting you after a few weeks apart. I haven’t been idle, at least not in the traditional sense, I assure you. All of us have celebrated Thanksgiving and I hope you had the opportunity to give thanks to God, as well as have time to share with family and friends. Since then, I also managed to spend some time in the hospital having heart surgery (procedure) and an additional splint put in the lower part of my heart. It was preventative to avoid having a problem as opposed to getting one after a serious problem occurred. So, all is well and I figured I should get back to work.
The holidays and the celebration of Christ’s birth aren’t far away. It’s Advent and a time of preparing and getting ready. Trouble is, it seems everyone is in such a rush to get to Christmas that we forget to really celebrate it by getting ready for it.
December, the days prior to the twenty-fifth, are a count down to Christmas like on the old fashioned Advent calendars. Filled with twenty-five doors, the child slowly opens one door at a time, one each day, counting down to Christmas. The door once opened reveals a verse of Scripture, a picture displaying the joy of the season, or maybe with the right grandparents, a chocolate treat (Karen and I ARE those grandparents). In worship, we light one of the four Advent candles on the Advent wreath each week. No matter how we count the days out, we get more excited and anxious the closer we get to THE day — Christmas.
Lately, with all the parties and sales, the exchanges and events, by the time Christmas is really here our enthusiasm is about spent. I mean really, they started showing Christmas programing on TV weeks ago already. The stores had Christmas stuff out right next to the Halloween candy and costumes. Christmas music has filled the ether even before Thanksgiving (that’s in November with Christmas at the end of December in case you forgot). What’s sad is that a day or two after the twenty-fifth the music will fall silent, the celebrating be reduced to torn wrapping paper and returned presents, and the stores displaying the latest in swim wear. The feeling of peace on earth, good will to all overshadowed by the usual business of “if it feels good, just do it” mode of living.
I distinctly recall the church calendar and the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in complete agreement that Christmas isn’t just one day but a season of celebration of at least twelve days in length which begins ON the twenty-fifth, not concludes.
My suggestion for these days before Christmas, you know the season of Advent, is to slow down — a little. To borrow from one of Advent’s themes, “Watch” “Be Ready” for the Savior is coming. I wouldn’t want you to miss Him because you were distracted by something less important or spent all your energy on a party before the guest of honor arrives.
Have a blessed Advent season as we get ready for Christ’s coming. Don’t worry. He’ll get here. Let’s just make sure WE ARE READY!
And those are my thoughts.
Pastor Lee R. Harder