According to Travel experts at the AAA Auto Club, roughly 115.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this Christmas to be with family and friends. That’s a whole lot of “Departures” and “Arrivals.” So are you one who will be receiving those “arriving” or will you be doing the “going” this Christmas? Cara and I are excited to be with our son, his wife, and our 17-month old grandson for Christmas.

Every year, at this time, we celebrate the coming of Jesus and affirm that His intention is to come again - “Yes, I am coming soon” Revelation 22:20. Adventus Domini! It's the Latin phrase for the "coming" or "arrival" of our Lord. Christmas (and the coming of Christ) has long been anticipated in a sacred season called Advent (the four Sundays leading up to Christmas).

Advent has become an historic tradition of the Christian church, originally created as a time of fasting and intensified longing for our Lord (The Council of Tours, in 567AD). Theologian Stanley Grentz, in His Christianity Today article entitled “Drive-Through Christmas” (which laments the lack of slowed and stayed focus at this time each year), has said, “By fasting and abstaining from public festivities, Christians were to prepare for the holy day by being drawn into the sense of longing for Messiah's coming felt by generations of God's faithful people.”

This is partially why the primary sanctuary color of Advent is Purple; because purple is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the coming or arrival of the King. Grentz’s point is well taken. Too often, we are a RUSHED people living in a FAST culture that often bypasses Advent on our race to Christmas. He invites us to “savor the plaintive mood of ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel" – and cultivate longing within our hearts and lives.

Since Advent is all about the anticipation of an arrival – being clear about WHO came and WHAT was given at the arrival is essential for the focus of our celebration. With all of my heart, I believe that when Jesus Christ entered into this world (the WHO), he came and lived among screaming babies, drunk bosses telling inappropriate jokes, failing marriages, people wrestling with chronic bad health, youth lost in uncertainty and defeated and depressive people stuck in hurt and failure. People just like you and me. I also believe that he came to give promise and provision (the WHAT) for a whole new life.

So often we feel the crunch of PACE but feel distant from the calming hope of PEACE. To become one who holds the ADVENT SPIRIT does not require a demeanor that is happy, jolly and enraptured by the festivities of seasonal delights (carols, décor, gifts and fudge). People who have the true ADVENT SPIRIT are pensive, fore longing, aching for something deeper and profoundly and personally aware that this world is fraught with harm and hurt. In fact, if you have ever asked any deep and searching questions out of the context of your hard life, like…
* Is there a job out there that would actually be fulfilling?
* Am I going to be a good mom?
* Will this be the year when things finally turn around?
* Can our marriage be saved?
* Will I find friends here?
Then you too have the ADVENT SPIRIT. This Christmas season, let the coming of God's Sar Shalom (Hebrew for - Prince of Peace) become your entrance into a whole new vision of life wellness. "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelations 22:20b)

Hope is Here!

Pastor David 😊

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