“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV
Christmas and Easter are the highest holy seasons in the life of the church. We anticipate anew the birth of Jesus the Messiah during Advent. We celebrate with sacred reverence the birth of Jesus and prepare our hearts and lives for the passion and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. These are the most amazing reasons to celebrate in all of human history. This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent. It is the beginning of the Church calendar and the season through which we anticipate the coming of the long expected Jesus. This Sunday we begin the season where we focus on God’s peace, hope, love, and joy. It is the time of year where we spend time considering how God made a way for all of humanity to be saved. We consider the unusual way in which God accomplished salvation. During Advent we take time to consider the fact that it is almost Christmas.
Advent is when we decorate the church with the hanging of the greens. We bring out the Chrismon tree, wreathes, lights, and decorations. There may not be a time of year where the church looks any better. Personally, I love the way the church is decorated for Advent and Christmas. I love the way we light the Advent candles each week in preparation. I love the way we work our way toward Christmas Eve with great intention. I love the fact that we come each week with a wonderful combination of awe, wonder, excitement, and faith. We know the whole story of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. Even though we know these events, we celebrate them anew each year. We remember each year with awe and reverence that Jesus was born as the savior of the world. During Advent we celebrate that it is almost Christmas.
This Sunday we will start a new Advent message series entitled Almost Christmas. There are many Bible studies, Life groups, and Sunday School classes going through the study by the same title. We will have some books available for purchase and it is available on Amazon. The title of the book is Almost Christmas: A Wesleyan Advent Study and the authors are Magrey deVega, Ingrid McIntyre, April Casperson, and Matt Rawle. There are devotion books and a DVD available as well. If you are interested in starting a study or a Life group we encourage you to do this during this sacred time of year. People who are not a part of the church are more open to coming to church at Christmas time than any other time of the year. What a perfect time to invite people to get involved in an Advent study. Each week we will look at what it means to embrace the duality of it being almost Christmas and altogether Christmas. We will work toward an understanding of what it means to experience an altogether peace, hope, love, and joy in our life. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity.
This Sunday we will focus on what it means to experience an altogether peace in our faith life. Jesus gives us a different kind of peace than the rest of the world can offer. Peace is not a sense of quiet or lack of noise, chaos, or activity. Peace is something much more. Peace is an inward reality. Peace is an assurance that what we celebrate during Advent, Christmas, and Easter is true. Peace is presence—the presence of Jesus in every aspect of our life and in our very being. Many people will experience an almost peace this Advent and Christmas. May we all strive to experience the altogether peace found in Jesus.
This Sunday I hope you will join me at 8:15|NINE45|11:15 a.m. for worship. You can also go to SAUMC.NET and join us via livestream. May you experience the peace of Christ in all we do. The best is yet to come. I love you all and can’t wait to see you in church!