Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And now the reason for the season

The time before Christmas, at many churches, is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. We prepare for it by celebrating the birth of Jesus. In Advent we are reminded of how much we also need a Savior, and we look forward to the second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. Let us keep in mind the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.

Advent can be a solution to the age-old problem of secular Christmas vs. spiritual Christmas. We need to recognize that Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Unfortunately, we spend most of our time preparing, not for a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but for fulfilling the demands of the season. We have to buy presents for many people and make sure they are all wrapped and delivered. We have parties to attend and parties to host. We have relatives who come to visit or we are the relatives who go elsewhere to visit.

Are we focusing on the real reason for the season – the birth of Jesus? Are the traditions of Advent helping us to focus more on the Lord, to get in touch with our need for Him, to replenish our hope, and to celebrate Christmas with greater meaning and depth? Or are we facing heavy competition from retailers, relatives and friends. How do we save Christmas from being consumed by consumerism? Not to say giving gifts is wrong but our priorities and overspending, going into debt to give what we can’t afford and giving something they really don’t’ want or need. Instead, we need to put the needs of others above our own our actions need to speak so much louder than our words. Materialism has hijacked Christmas and we need to get our priorities straight. Spend less but give more from your heart. Maybe we should change it to, we need presence not always presents.

The lighting of the Advent candles is a way of preparing for the second coming of Jesus and focuses on Christ's threefold coming: past, present, and future. First, we remember the Lord's humble first coming in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Second, we give thanks for His present and continual coming to us through His Word. Finally, we look forward with hope and longing to His second coming in glory on Judgment Day.

The first candle symbolizes the hope and anticipation of His coming and is purple or dark blue in color. The second candle we are to ask for forgiveness showing repentance, knowing Christ is the way, again purple or dark blue. The third candle is for joy and rejoicing with anticipation of His coming and is usually pink or rose in color. The fourth candle is a reminder that Christ will bring peace both in our hearts and to the world; this candle is also purple or dark blue. The center candle which is larger and is white is lit Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day and represents Christ himself who is born to save us from our sins. It is a celebration of the fulfillment of prophecy as represented in Jesus’ birth and hope in the fulfillment when Christ comes again. This one will continue to be lit during the 12 days of Christmas or until January 6th or the first Sunday thereafter. Some churches may use a different order for their Advent celebration or sermons but it will be close to this order. Possibly Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and the Christ candle.

May you all have a very Blessed Christmas and remember the reason for the season.

Smile – it’s one of the best gifts you can give someone.

Friday, December 19, 2008

'Tis the season

Did you know....
Advent (from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming") is a season of the Christian chruch, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus; in other words, the period immediately before Christmas .

Advent books often neglect the fact that Advent does not begin on December 1, nor does Christmastide end with the excitement of December 25. (There are four Sundays in Advent before Christmas, it usually begins in late November, and the liturgical season doesn’t officially end until Epiphany on January 6).

The theme of readings and teachings during Advent is often to prepare for the second coming while commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas. With the view of directing the thoughts of Christians to the first coming of Jesus Christ as Savior, and to his second coming as Judge, special lessons are prescribed for each of the four Sundays in Advent.

Remember the song: The Twelve Days of Christmas, it starts with Christmas Day and finishes with the eve of Epiphany on 5th January. The Twelve Days of Christmas dates back to English origins in the sixteenth century although the music is reputed to be French, some say German. The first publication date for The Twelve Days of Christmas (song) was 1780.

Each of The Twelve Days of Christmas has a religious significance and are symbolized following the lyrics of The Twelve Days of Christmas

1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, etc. ~ see 1st Corinthians 12
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

And the last verse of the song (try not to sing it)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!

May you all have a Blessed Holiday Season -- Merry Christmas everyone


And don't forget to smile -- it's contagious

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pay Attention

One of the many lessons in life is to pay attention to what you are doing. I'm sure as a child you heard it from either a parent, teacher or someone older -- you need to pay attention to what you are doing -- you don't want to do that wrong -- it will come out wrong if you don't pay attention to what you are doing....

I guess I didn't pay attention enough as this morning when I got up things just didn't seem to go right at all. I got out of bed too fast so that was my first mistake, on my way to answer natures call I was a little off balance but managed. By the time I did my thing, I was fine. Sticking to your normal routine is important -- so I guess I should say pay attention to what I am doing. Like getting out of bed slowly -- dropping my legs, slowly.

I'm thinking to myself -- self this is not the way to start off the day so I found my pulse ox and put it on, don't know why I did that but I did. I then walked from the living room to the kitchen to make breakfast. My oxygen level dropped from 93 to 85 on that little trip. HMMM... Heart rate went up to 125... well all systems seem to be working ~ maybe not as they should be but they're working.

Looked out the window and saw a dusting of snow (not again) but just a dusting ~ whew and of course it was chilly so I thought I'll make a nice cup of hot chocolate, that should get my juices running. Also thought a nice piece of cinnamon toast would go along great with the hot chocolate. Popped a slice of bread in the toaster, made the hot chocolate, put some butter on the toast when it reappeared from the depths of the toaster and it melted just right, went to my spice thingie and reached for the cinnamon. This is where the pay attention part comes in... I unscrewed the cap and started shaking, hmmm not dark brown like it should be and I'm thinking it was ginger so I kept on shaking. Then when I was done I thought, I'll just add the cinnamon and have a new creation.... Put the cap back on, looked at the container and it said "onion powder"... Oh YUK what did I do!!!! Well, I wasn't about to waste a piece of toast so I shook off as much powder as I could and then PAY ATTENTION came into place. I did get the cinnamon and gave it a good dousing on the toast, the butter was still at that put something on me stage, and I shook away. Didn't taste too bad -- didn't taste too good either *;* And right now I have this horrible onion taste in my mouth -- might have to make me some more cinnamon toast -- or not get too close to anyone today ~ wish me luck.

Merle ~ OHPA
And don't forget to SMILE ~ IT'S CONTAGIOUS