The most used word in this time of year we call the Christmas Season is the word "gift." Most of us will spend a great deal of time in coming weeks frantically searching for gifts, trying to find the right gift for the right person at the right price. God gave the first and best Christmas gift, the gift of his son Jesus.
The days leading up to Christmas are some of the most beautiful, exciting, and meaningful days of the year. A fair amount of anxiety and worry is also produced, I’m afraid. The Advent season has long been seen as a time of preparation and anticipation, but Advent too, has fallen prey to cluttered schedules, distractions, “to-do” lists, obligations, and many of us find that we miss out on the very sacred opportunities that are available to us.
During this season of Advent 2017, even as our thoughts turn to gifts, shopping lists, and our own wish lists, we as a community of faith, will be exploring the gifts God gives us in the coming of the Christ child. Reflecting on passages from Isaiah together each Sunday, we will consider what it means to receive and
open those gifts as we unpack the theme, “Christmas Gifts to Open.”
I ran across a story of a man who received a Christmas gift 49 years ago, and still hadn’t opened it. Imagine that! How would you feel if you gave someone a gift to express your love and you found out later that they had not even bothered to open it? I suspect that this is what much of the world does with God’s Christmas gifts. So often, God’s Christmas gifts will remain unopened and un-received. A gift is not a gift until it is opened.
I look forward to opening the gifts of vision, peace, song, and presence with you each Sunday during Advent worship. Christmas is not about the gifts and the gift-swapping. It is about THE gift, God’s Christmas gift to us all. I invite us all to open our hearts and minds to receive God’s greatest gift this year, to allow Jesus to be born anew into our life. I pray for each member and friend of MHBC, a very joy-filled, and meaning-full Christmas!
Grace and Peace, Joel
Pastor Joel Hawthorne