Advent - the word means 'arrival'. And here we are, having 'arrived' at our celebration of Christmas Day - The First Communion of Christmas (also known as Midnight Mass) has been shared, Carols have been sung, and, following the Morning Eucharist service we hope that everyone will be able to spend time with family and friends celebrating this time of year with a special gathering together.
But with all the 'Advents' we celebrate at this time - the coming of God as a human being in Jesus, the coming of the Shepherds, Magi and others to the Stable, the coming of light as the days draw out following Winter Solstice, the coming of friends for the holidays, even the coming of Santa Claus (!!!!) we are also, as Christians, reminded that 'Arrival' doesn't mean 'ending' in our journey of faith, our life-journey.
The Advent of Jesus in the story of the first Christmas was just the beginning of a world changing life and death and a cosmos-shaking new-life in Resurrection. It was just the beginning of the foundation of what would become the Church, who would continue to share the story of God's love (and fail, and fall, and be renewed and reformed repeatedly) up to now, and onward.
The Spiritual journey of each one of us continues, and times such as Advent and Christmas punctuate our year to remind us of the work we are called to at the heart of our faith - to love, to share the love of God with all, to welcome the stranger, to do justice, to act with grace, to continue to grow in faith, and hope, and love. May God bless us all as we continue to dance, to journey together, in partnership with God's gracious Spirit.
John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ When the men had come to him, they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” ’ Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’
Ring out, ye bells!
All Nature swells
With gladness at the wondrous story,—
The world was lorn,
But Christ is born
To change our sadness into glory.
Sing, earthlings, sing!
To-night a King
Hath come from heaven's high throne to bless us.
The outstretched hand
O'er all the land
Is raised in pity to caress us.
Come at his call;
Be joyful all;
Away with mourning and with sadness!
The heavenly choir
With holy fire
Their voices raise in songs of gladness.
The darkness breaks
And Dawn awakes,
Her cheeks suffused with youthful blushes.
The rocks and stones
In holy tones
Are singing sweeter than the thrushes.
Then why should we
In silence be,
When Nature lends her voice to praises;
When heaven and earth
Proclaim the truth
Of Him for whom that lone star blazes?
No, be not still,
But with a will
Strike all your harps and set them ringing;
On hill and heath
Let every breath
Throw all its power into singing!
Contemporary Nativity Picture - Shared by Decatur Presbyterian Church on Pinterest