Saturday Sermon: Advent, Christmas are coming of Jesus
By Charles Placker Terry was a special person who came into our lives and made us wonder how we had lived without his friendship before. I quickly learned to love him in a special way. Terry lived his life in the spirit of Advent.
Advent is the season of expectation. While celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace to earth, we are anticipating His second coming and the coming age when the peace, love and joy of Christ will dwell in every heart.
Advent and Christmas are the coming of Jesus, giving us fellowship with God the Father. Isaiah says 'Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord." Eight hundred years later, the apostle Paul said, "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So, let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
Darkness is a very potent symbol of sin and estrangement. People who do not live in fellowship with others live in perpetual darkness and continually do things of which they are ashamed. Just as darkness symbolizes sin and estrangement, light represents grace and love.
The month of December is one of the darkest months of the year. When we put up our Christmas lights, we are affirming that the darkness shall never overcome the light. We are affirming those positive values of peace and justice and love and hope. Most of all, we are affirming the presence of God in our world.
We all put lights on our Christmas trees and decorate with lights. Some, like my neighbor, put hundreds of decorations and lights up. That's all right, as long as we understand what Isaiah meant when he said, "Let us walk in the light of the Lord." And what Paul meant when he wrote "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
There is a story that has been circulating about a church Christmas pageant. A young girl named Jana was so excited about her part, that her parents thought she was to be one of the main characters, though she had not told them what she was to do.
When arriving, Jana's parents could see the shepherds fidgeting in one corner of the stage, which was evidently intended to be a field. Mary and Joseph stood solemnly behind the manger. In the back, three young wise men waited impatiently.
But still, little Jana sat quietly and confidently. Then the teacher began, "A long time ago, Mary and Joseph had a baby, and they named Him Jesus," she said. "And when Jesus was born, a bright star appeared over the stable."
At that cue, Jana got up from her chair, picked up a large tin-foil star, walked behind Mary and Joseph and held the star up high for everyone to see. When the teacher told about the shepherds coming to see the baby, the three young shepherds came forward and Jana jiggled the star up and down excitedly to show them where to come. When the wise men responded to their cue, she went forward a little to meet them and to lead the way, her face as alight as the real star might have been.
The play ended. They had refreshments. On the way home, Jana said with great satisfaction, "I had the main part."
"You did?" her Mom asked, wondering why she thought that.
"Yes," she said, "'Cause I showed everybody how to find Jesus."
That's the spirit of Advent. As people of the light, our job is to make sure the light of Christ shines ever more brightly in this world of darkness. How do we do that? By continually walking in the light ourselves. By living a life of integrity and love. Francis of Assisi once said, "At all times, preach the gospel. If necessary, use words." That's why I miss my friend, Terry. He showed the light of Christ in every step he took, and now, he's shining in the presence of Jesus.
Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord."
Charles Placker is a licensed minister who writes for the Victoria Advocate.