As we enter what is known to Christians as the Advent season, we await Christmas Day, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. This season was intended to be a season of anticipation for that celebrated day in which the long-expected Messiah came to live among us on earth.
The Christmas season has become a time of parties and shopping for an event that will include the opening of presents and a big feast called Christmas Dinner. Our anticipation is for the time that Santa Claus will come to earth from the North Pole and bring us long-expected presents.
I love the Christmas season. I have always loved the Christmas season, full of colors and lights and music. In my memories of times spent with my family, I remember what I would consider to be a good balance between the magical Christmas with Santa and the world of elves, and the religious, spiritual one that contains the true meaning of Christmas. Our family was always involved in the activities of the church, and celebrating Christmas meant that we remembered that it was Jesus’ birthday first, and that He was the first Christmas gift.
One of the traditions in my family at Christmas time was to go every year to a concert put on by the Glee Club in the small town where I grew up. This concert was “Handel’s Messiah.” I remember well going to this concert and listening to “The Hallelujah Chorus” for which everyone stood. This itself is a tradition, that everyone stands for that beautiful and majestic piece.
The small town where I attended first through sixth grade was about the size of Chowchilla. I remember a sign just outside of town that welcomed folks into the town, and on it was stated, “The city of 32 churches.” That seemed like a lot of churches for one small town. In my world, there was only the Methodist church and the Baptist church. I was a Methodist (am still a Methodist) and our family was involved in every aspect of the church, so I have lots of memories of being in church and Sunday school, the choir, potlucks, and other events throughout the years. There was always a Christmas pageant in which the children acted out the very first Christmas. During the summer, we had vacation Bible school, where we had lessons about God and Jesus and made crafts and sang songs.
Today, we don’t see so much involvement as families in church. It is sad to me to see that disappear. It was an important part of my upbringing, and I cherish those times in church with my own family. There is a saying that I remember hearing when I was a child, “The family that prays together stays together.” There is a further quote that is credited to Mother Teresa, “The family that prays together stays together, and if they stay together they will love one another as God has loved each one of them. And works of love are always works of peace.”
God is good. All the time God is good. We receive blessings and miracles every day that we live on this earth, and we don’t give God enough credit for what we have. During this holiday season, I would encourage everyone to get involved in a local church congregation. This is not only an opportunity to worship and show gratitude for your creator, but it is also an opportunity to be involved with a group that will enrich your own life and that of your family. I realized just how important that is a couple of years ago when my husband was in the hospital. My church family was so wonderful with their cards and calls and prayers. I remember thinking that I don’t know how people get through tough times without the love of a church family.
Whatever is your denomination, attend the church of your choice. If you do not already have a church home, I invite you to come to the United Methodist Church at 500 Sunset Avenue.
This Saturday the church will be decorated for Christmas, so the sanctuary will have a beautiful Christmas tree with the nativity set and decorations. This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, and we will light the first candle of the Advent wreath, which represents hope.
Our pastor, Bert Roper, delivers a message of inspiration and encouragement as he talks about the love of Christ in his sermons.
Enjoy your holiday season, and remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.
Until next time…
Thanks to all the readers who have given me encouragement and compliments on my articles.
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“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
— Isaiah 9:6