I’ve been suffering through pre-Christmas since early October when Wal-Mart decided to put out their leftover Christmas items – dusty boxes of greeting cards, ornaments, flattened wreaths. Each week it seems the store has slowly been gathering momentum: putting out more decorations, newer cards, bigger fake trees, piping Christmas songs through the P.A. system. I’m not a big fan of holidays for a lot of reasons and there are times when I wish I could just blow it all off and go on with the day as if it were any other day. But no one else I know feels the same way that I do, so I push through it all and get to the other side of the holiday.

Now, I’m not anti-Christmas. I like the church-y Christmas stuff a lot. I’ve been going to church almost my entire life, but never did the Advent thing until I started going to the Presbyterian church and it’s given me some new perspectives on the season. I love Christmas Eve services and all the families being together and the larger church family being together (plus, we do candles…fire in church…awesome!) . Honestly, I even like a few of the Christmas carols.

I suppose you could say I’m torn between enjoying the holiday and despising it immensely.  The secular Christmas with the gift giving, and trees, and sales, and annoying commercials really put a damper on the whole season.  But looking at God’s gift to us and all the awesome things attached to it – that’s what saves me from just blowing off the whole thing all together.  The first candle of Advent – the one we lit this morning – is the candle of Hope. That’s what a lot of us (especially me) need this time of year – hope.

Hope that finances will balance out.
Hope that God keeps His promises.
Hope that loneliness doesn’t feel so lonely.
Hope that something will change for the better.
Hope that a dream or two will come true.

This time of year is when all hope can seem lost – it’s cold, it’s dark…people can seem fake, rude, presumptive, egotistic…church can even be a place of contention at times.  But our hope doesn’t rest in the weather or other people or even the church. It rests in Jesus – the one who can calm our fears, ease our tensions and stresses, and comfort our loneliness.  When it all seems like a little too much to handle, take a minute to think about our Hope through Jesus.

.much love. sheth.