The Fourth Sunday of Advent

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The wait is almost over.  But what exactly are we waiting for anyway?  Jesus came 2000 years ago, and for many of us, he has entered into our hearts.  Of course, we are waiting for the day when he will “come again to judge the quick and the dead”.  But this season of Advent, this time of preparation and waiting is more than stating a church doctrine.  And it is more than a period of time before the Christmas celebration.

I had some time to reflect on this the other day.  My wife, a hospice chaplain, often leads Christian services at nursing homes.  Last week she held one for Christian residents of a predominately Jewish retirement community.  But the religious service was not the only part of the day – immediately following the service would be a time of Christmas carols and the surprise arrival of the icon of Christmas, Santa (portrayed by yours truly).

So I was waiting outside the room as the Old Testament readings of the promise of the Messiah were read, and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” was sung.  I was outside the room as the scriptures of anticipation were proclaimed.  Then the New Testament readings – the birth of Jesus, the visit of the shepherds and the Wise Men were read.  And more carols proclaiming that great birth.  And all the while, I stood outside the room, hearing these great words, the word of God, reflecting on the importance of the incarnation, reflecting on my own wait for God, and at the same time, waiting for my cue following the benediction. 

Christmas is certainly a holiday that is split between a religious and secular celebration.  On one hand we hold candles and sing “Silent Night” and on the other hand we celebrate a “right jolly old elf” as he brings toys to good little boys and girls.  And both are wonderful.

Celebration is necessary – and celebration is godly.  God wants us to celebrate the gifts of life, the gifts of the creation that He has given us.  And He wants us to celebrate the most important gift – the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

So, on this final Sunday of Advent, as we approach the fun, festive Christmas holiday, and we approach the holy night when the Word became flesh, consider your own relationship with the Christ Child.  This is a great time to make the holiday more meaningful.  Perhaps your wait is over – and Jesus will rekindle the love of God in your heart.

May God bless you this Advent, and may He enter your heart once again.

Bill

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