At this point of the liturgical year, we refresh in our minds the beautiful story of the miracle of Christ and how God's love was made manifest in his son: Jesus, the Light of the World. The season of Advent is designed to help us reflect on the spiritual awakening of once again beholding the sweet and beautiful Christ Child at the beginning of his early life. In coming months, we will follow his growth and delve deeper into his ministry to uncover more treasures of love and hope, as each liturgical cycle allows us to study specific scriptures that reveal eternal truths that underpin and extend our growing faith.
We are a congregational church with the Disciples of Christ denomination, and are not required to follow the lectionary by the letter. We do, however, rely on it for general guidance and the remembrance of special events in the Christian year. Liturgical year A began with Advent in November 2016, and we will shift to liturgical year B next Advent. Whilst the general focuses of each season - Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time (following Epiphany), Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time (following Pentecost) - are the same each year, the scriptures chosen will differ. This offers us a deep richness in our study of scripture and in our experience of worship, which is guided by scriptural learning.
So, as we approach the solemn and celebratory season of Christmas, let us remember the learnings of Advent to more deeply cherish the gifts of God: HOPE, LOVE, JOY, and PEACE. These are not simply "pretty words" or lightly considered thoughts; instead, they are immensely meaningful terms that open us to the experience of God's very real presence in our lives. As the Christ Candle is lit on Christmas Eve, let us open our hearts to God's love in a new and more meaningful way. Let us welcome the presence of his Holy Spirit, residing in our hearts always - even as we welcome anew the Babe in the Manger and all his birth means to us: hope that cannot be shaken; love that will never fade; joy that must find expression, and peace that passes understanding.
O, Holy Night! It is the night of our dear Savior's birth!