With Thanksgiving Day here in the United States having past … the world has entered the period known as Advent … which most commonly think of and call the Christmas season. The word “Advent” defines what it’s all about … the “coming” or “arrival.” From a calendar aspect, it is considered the beginning of the Christian “year.”
Of the five Advent candles … one is lit on each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas Eve, with the final one being lit on that night when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ.
Those first four candles each have a name:
- The candle of Hope
- The candle of Peace
- The candle of Joy
- The candle of Love
The light of the candle itself is an important symbol of and for this season . . . reminding us that Jesus is the Light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life and hope. Isn’t that a wonderful thought to consider … more than ever when so many things appear to be ever more devastating and taking us in the wrong direction, and when Christianity itself is under attack – unless it provides an excuse or reason that allows someone to profit!
The reason . . .
Of course … it’s the time for us to rejoice and prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I’m not sure why I even say this, as you know it just as well as I do. Yet, it’s so easy for us Christians to get caught up in the secular “selling” world that’s already been “revved up” and rolling for weeks now.
I’m not opposed to gift giving is any way, as the concept really began with those Biblical individuals we know as the “three wise men.” I guess it boils down to my having two concerns:
- That we allow ourselves to get carried away and that the “reason for the season” gets overshadowed.
- That we give overly large or costly gifts to persons who have few needs when there are so many in our community, our nation, our world who truly are in need … in too many cases for even having the simple necessities of life.
Just after writing the above thought, I heard two news reporters on our local all-news radio station discussing this very matter. Yes, “Christmas is for children” as the song goes that we play on my Sirius XM Escape channel during the season and we should make it a fun time for them … while at the same time helping them understand – and I know many children in Christian homes are being taught this – that millions of other children in this world will be fortunate to wake up on Christmas morning having a decent amount of food to eat.
The chorus of this song goes on to say, “but aren’t we all children Christmas day?” To me, as an adult, that fun comes from seeing the joy on a child’s face.
I know … I’ve been on my soapbox in this writing, but some days I can’t help myself. And, I write this thinking about the Sunday School teacher we had just a few years ago who regularly reminded us that when we point a finger at someone else, we have three pointing back at our own self.
Let me close with the words of the Apostle Paul, as written in the Book of Acts, Chapter 20, Verse 35: “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” If you cannot connect directly with one or more in need, there are Christian-based organization with hundreds of volunteers ready to carry out the mission as well as individual churches who do much to support the needy.