I don’t know what tradition of Christianity you grew up in, but until I was in the third grade, by family attended the Presbyterian church in town. Growing up in a church that has a liturgical calendar allowed me to develop a sense of tradition that has helped me grow in my faith and knowledge of Jesus throughout my life.
In the weeks leading to Christmas, the Presbyterian church had a family time during Sunday school several weeks before Christmas. In that time, we made ornaments for home and for the church’s Christmas tree, which we also decorated. We also made Advent wreaths for home using pine branches and candles.
The Advent season begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas, November 30 this year. While many churches celebrate the Advent season in anticipation of Christmas, it is actually preparation for the second coming of Jesus while celebrating his first coming. The readings and teachings of Advent were meant to help us to anticipate Jesus’ return with the same sense of urgency and celebration that surrounds Christmas.
Since this newsletter has likely reached you before Thanksgiving, perhaps part of your family’s Thanksgiving celebration might include giving thanks for the coming of Jesus. Not only should we celebrate the coming of the baby Jesus, the Prince of Peace, but also the second coming of Jesus the King of Kings.
He is coming! Our message is Good News! Just as the prophets told of the coming Messiah, giving hope to God’s people Israel, Jesus promised that he would return to take his people home with him. We have hope for the second coming because of the blessings of the first coming of Jesus. Our joyful celebration of this Good News should be just as exuberant as our celebration of Christmas, and it should last all year. Let’s use our preparation for the celebration of Christmas to set the tone for our ongoing preparation for the return of Jesus.