It is the end of the year again! No doubt it is a crazy time of year for everyone. Thanksgiving just wrapped up and Christmas is right around the corner, not to mention all of the other “year’s end” things that you have to do. However, while it is the end of the calendar year, the church year is only just beginning. We are now in the season of Advent. The church is decked out in blue, the Christmas trees are put up, the Advent candles are lit weekly, and there is a feeling of joyful (and sometimes anxious) preparation in the air as we ramp up to one of the two biggest holidays of the year.
It is easy for us to get lost in the preparation. It is easy to get so focused on having everything just right so that we can properly celebrate Christmas. The presents have to be purchased, the decorations must all be in the correct spots, the menu must be set, and you have to decide which service(s) you and your family will attend on Christmas weekend. Even though the four blue candles on the Advent wreath symbolize Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, we tend not to think about them except on Sunday mornings.
And that is normal because you are all human! That is exactly why you keep coming back to worship on Sunday mornings (or replaying the live-stream whenever you want). Not because the pastor might have some new, inspirational speech for you, but because you know that whether it is through the Confession and Absolution, the Preached Word, or the Lord’s Supper, you will be given the best gift of all: God’s promise that He made to you in your baptism. A promise that was fulfilled through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is in this gift that Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love can be found. It is in this gift that all these things are given to you!
In this busy Advent season as you are rushing around doing this and that, may you remember what we celebrate on December 25th every year. May you know that no matter how imperfect things might turn out for your celebrations or year end events, you have already been made perfect through the love of Jesus Christ. Know that God has already given you the best gift you can ever receive with no exchange receipt or strings attached: His only Son, our Lord, who takes away all of your sins and has set you free.
This is most certainly true.