It really is starting to feel like Christmas. On Sunday we gathered together to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. We enjoyed the beautifully decorated sanctuary; lit the first candle reminding us that Jesus is the light of the world; dusted off Christmas songs we haven’t sung for a year and, we shared a meal at the table. All we needed was a little snow!
The “spirit” then moved from church to home as we put up our Christmas tree and other festive decorations this past weekend. I must admit I love going through the ornament boxes and pulling out treasures that I had forgotten about during the year. This year, however, as I was digging through one of the Christmas boxes, I came across something that I hadn’t seen before. What I found in the bottom of the box was a dove. Not a real one of course, that would be gross - but one that looks remarkably real, complete with soft white feathers and a lifelike beak. The thing is, I don’t remember ever buying such a thing and I certainly don’t remember receiving it as a gift. I was about to toss the bird into the reject box when suddenly I thought about the significance of a dove, especially at this time of year.
The dove represents a messenger. In fact the bible is full of messengers. There were prophets in the Old Testament that were messengers. There were angels that were messengers. And the few times that “doves” are mentioned in scripture, they too are messengers. Remember Noah’s ark – when the dove came back with the message that land was nearby?
And when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit in the form of dove was seen to come to Him with a message from God.
The dove also represents peace and love.
I am not sure where this dove I found came from, but I am convinced that I found it for a reason. It was, I think, a reminder in the midst of the craziness of the season that the purpose of Christmas was God sending a powerful message – in the form of tiny little baby – a message of His forgiveness, His love and His peace for each of us. It’s simple. It’s profound.
Let’s simplify Christmas by celebrating Christ.
This advent...take some time to experience the gift that God has sent for you.
Here are five things you can do with your family to fully experience Advent:
1. Use an Advent Wreath in Your Home
You can get Advent wreath kits online or from most Christian bookstores. But you can easily make your own with a wreath (natural or artificial) and five candles. If you aren’t sure what to do with an Advent wreath, I will have the readings we are using each Sunday that you can do at home. It will be available for you on Sunday. Just ask!
2. Let Your Nativity Scene Function as an Advent Calendar
When Emily and Tyler were little, beginning the first Sunday of Advent, I would have the characters of the nativity scene spread all over the house and every day during Advent each character would inch there way to the stable. Baby Jesus, of course was hidden away until Christmas morning. Now that they are older we don't move the characters everyday... now it's whenever I dust ;) But we still do it! This has been a wonderful family tradition. I love that Nancy is creating that sense of anticipation with our children at Amberlea on Sunday mornings.
3. Read and be read to!
As a family read Luke chapter 1 or read Advent themed verses of scripture (I can give you a list, just ask on Sunday). Why not pop over to Faith Family Books and find some beautifully illustrated Advent and Christmas themed Children’s books. By reading you’ll enhance your Advent experience of God.
4. Dress for Advent
It’s not unusual for people to wear Christmas colors throughout the month of December, I even saw a couple of crazy Santa ties on Sunday (you know who you are :), so why not Advent colors? Advent colors are purple/blue and pink.The purple/blue color signifies seriousness, repentance, and royalty. Pink points to the other theme of Advent, which is joy.
So, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, why not finally wear those purple socks!
5. Do Acts of Kindness
It’s easy for those of us who live in safety, comfort, and prosperity to forget that there are those in our midst who are less fortunate. This Advent we can fan the flame of our hope in Jesus by reaching out to care for people in need. For the hungry and homeless, for victims of injustice and oppression, for those who suffer from sickness or sadness.
Small acts of kindness can make a huge impact and there are loads of things that you can do with our family. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Shovelling your neighbors driveway (when it snows, of course ;).
- what about taking a trip downtown with the kids and giving a Tim Horton’s gift card to a homeless person?
- how about going shopping together for food that will go into the food hampers? or,
- what about taking a shift with your family at the Pickering Town Center manning the Salvation Army kettle?
Advent can be a time to touch those in need and to share God’s love with them in a tangible way.
The message of Christmas is about God's forgiveness, God's love and God's peace for each of us. Truly the greatest give ever given. It’s simple. It’s profound.
Let’s simplify Christmas by celebrating Christ.