Tag Archives: Advent

Christmas is coming

‘Now may our God and Father himself and our
Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the
Lord make you increase and abound in love for
one another and for all, just as we abound in love
for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in
holiness that you may be blameless before our
God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus
with all his saints.’ – Thessalonians 3:11-13

This Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent season. In worship this week the students considered the question, “How do we know Christmas is coming?” They explored the many different things which bring our attention to Christmas – the Christmas decorations in the stores, Christmas cards in the mail, Santa Claus appearances in shopping centres and Christmas parties at night. For our students, knowing that there are only a few days of the school year left means that Christmas isn’t far away.

With distractions all around us, it is easy for the profound nature of Christmas to be lost on us. After all, we celebrate the birth of Christ every year, and we know that on December 26th we have only 364 days until we do it all again! In this context we can miss the richness of this event.

We need to remember that the Jewish people had been waiting hundreds of years for the Messiah to be born. They had suffered through famine, slavery, oppression and grief as they waited for their Saviour to appear. We are told that upon hearing that the Messiah was to be born, the great ruler Herod was ‘greatly disturbed’! Herod knew that this Messiah would be a threat to his leadership.

The problem for the Jewish people was that Jesus was not the Messiah they were
expecting. They were expecting an all-powerful, all-conquering Messiah who would put everything right for the nation of Israel. Herod too, was expecting the same and had his armies ready to stop anyone challenging his authority.

But Jesus was not what everyone was expecting. He was a child born into simple
circumstances, whose healing ministry grew from humble beginnings on earth to ultimately healing the relationship between humanity and God. He taught us not to pick up a sword but to seek peace; to love each other, and to forgive others readily. He taught us that in God’s world everyone has meaning, from the smallest child to the most powerful ruler.

So as we commence the Christmas season and are encouraged to believe that the event is all about presents, parties and being busy, may God grant us the wisdom to stop and reflect. May we do as the writer of Thessalonians prays: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for the Lord.”

As my grandmother taught me, “When you take the Christ out of Christmas you aren’t left with much at all.”

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While we wait

3547193960_5c5fb73795_mThis week we celebrate the first week of Advent—the season in which we wait expectantly for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. On Monday morning this week we marked this occasion by lighting the first of the 5 advent candles during worship.

The tradition of having an Advent wreath lit by an increasing number of candles as Christmas Day approaches is a wonderful way to remind us of the light that Jesus brought into the world with his birth. I encourage all of our families to consider taking up this lovely tradition in order to celebrate the season.

As we have moved into Advent, we have also moved into a new church year. What a wonderful way to start the year by celebrating the birth of Christ.

Last newsletter I wrote a little of our wonderful Sports Day which occurred recently. I took a photo which I believe sums up all that we are about at Sunshine. We see one of the Grade 6 students assisting one of our Prep students to compete in a friendly team game of ‘dress up relay’. It was a wonderful day of activities but what I recall most from this day is the sentiment expressed in this picture. Seeing our students in the act of caring and supporting each other makes me very proud indeed.

The gospel reading for this week declares “Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. (Mark 13:33) The text itself declares that Christ himself does not know the time of Jesus’ second coming.
This is not something that should scare us – far from it. It should serve as a reminder that we should live each day expectantly and faithfully. Faithfully following Christ’s encouragement in John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

May we enter the Advent season embracing the Gospel call to love one another.

Blessings

Tom

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