Friday, November 25, 2016

Advent 2016

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:3-5)

Note: This is a re-post from last year with some editing.  I am currently discerning about doing some additional posts looking at Jesus’ birth prophesied in the Old Testament, so there may be some additional posts in the coming weeks.

*A special time of year is upon us—the season of Advent.  This week’s post will serve as an introduction to my series on Advent.  Be watching for an additional post on Christmas Day (unless the Lord leads me differently).

Advent is considered the beginning of the church year.  “The word Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’.  The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his [sic] First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his [sic] Second Advent.”[1]

This year (2016) Advent starts on Sunday, November 27, and concludes four weeks later on Christmas Eve.  It is at this time of year that we celebrate Jesus’ first coming while looking forward to His second coming.  It is a time of preparation and expectation.  It is a time to quiet ourselves and to ponder exactly what it was that Jesus did for us.  (Realize that Jesus did not have to come but He did!)   

Banner at Trinty UMC Albia, IA, Photo credit: D. Wright

While you are making preparations for Christmas, remember who and what you are really celebrating.  Remember the Reason for the Season!  If Jesus had not come to earth—to live and walk among us, to die a horrendous criminals’ death on the cross, and to rise again—the world would be a much different place.  I certainly would not be at my computer composing posts like this!  Life would be even more out of control!

God sent His Son into this suffering and evil world as an innocent infant, to grow up and live a completely sinless life.  And though He was not guilty of any wrongdoing, He died the death of a common criminal.  The reason for all of this was so Jesus could take upon Himself the punishment you and I deserve for our sins by dying in our place.  He did this because He loved us, sinful though we are.  But Jesus’ story doesn’t end at the grave.  He rose from the dead and rules in Heaven today.

And now, He reaches out to you, offering new life and hope.  Right now, you can accept those gifts.  You can invite Him to come into your life and your heart.  His love can bring you a new life of peace and joy.  All you must do is confess your sins to God, receive His forgiveness and by faith accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord.  That’s the true meaning of Christmas—a miracle of God’s love given to the world 2,000 years ago.  Why not receive that gift of love for yourself today?  It is the best gift you will ever receive.[2]

Trinity UMC--Albia, Iowa--Photo Credit D. Wright

As we prepare to welcome the Christ child again, spend some time reflecting on what Christ’s birth means to you. 

What does Christ’s birth mean to you?  How are you preparing to celebrate His birth?

Consider reaching out to those who are spending their first Christmas without a loved one.  It will be a sad, difficult time.  Simply being a quiet presence—ready and available to listen—will be a blessing for many people.  

Banner at Trinity UMC--Albia, Iowa--Photo credit: D. Wright

Please do not forget your single friends, family, neighbors, or those in your church who will be alone on Christmas Day—consider inviting them to join with your family (no matter how simple and informal the gathering is)—the blessings will flow both ways!  Whatever you do, please do not tell them, “Oh, God is with you…” and then walk off, ignoring their hurting heart and heart-felt desire to fellowship with others on Christmas Day.  Your family may be the only family they will get to experience…EVER.  My prayer is that churches will not cancel services on Christmas Day—to do so is to miss the point of the day entirely!   

Please join me in prayer:

Dear Father, reveal Yourself to us as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the first coming of Your Son, so long ago.  May we be the voice in our wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord.  Thank You for the gift of Your Son.  As we welcome Him; we also eagerly anticipate His second coming.  Remind us to focus on the real reason for the Season.  Help us to not miss You and those around us who are in need in our busyness and our focus on our family or on ourselves.  We pray for Your comfort to surround those grieving the loss of loved ones during this season, as well as for those who are walking a difficult journey due to illness, job loss, and more, may they truly feel your presence in a special way.  Show us where we need to be Your love with skin on.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


[1] From article on Advent by Dennis Bratcher
[2] From December 2005 church newsletter (Knoxville First UMC), written by Pastor Neil Montz


  1. Advent is definitely my favorite season of the church year, Kim. May we all take time to prayerfully reflect upon and give thanks for Jesus' coming into this world to save us.
    Love and blessings!

    1. Martha, I'm pretty fond of Advent myself. It's so easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the season. Yes, may we all take time to prayerfully reflect upon and give thanks for Jesus' coming to earth to save us.

      Have a blessed Advent season!

      Love and blessings!

  2. Hi Kim! I love your servant heart, and that fact that you are so tender toward those who might not feel included. That's beautiful.
    Our pastor started his message to day with the words; "Happy New Year!" Then he went on to explain how this Sunday begins the new church year. I loved that. My daughter and her family just left today after spending Thanksgiving with us, so it will take a few days to switch over to Advent, but I do love this time of year. What a hope and a faith we have that Jesus is always faithful...

    1. Hi Ceil, Thank you for your kind words; however, my words may be a tad self-serving. In any event, I get the pain of not being included.

      Yes, it is the beginning of a new year on the church calendar (our pastor touched on it briefly too).

      And getting into the mindset that Christmas is rapidly approaching will take some time. Perhaps if the weather becomes more seasonable that will help? In any event, I'm so thankful for Jesus and His willingness to give up so much to come to earth as a tiny baby and grow and walk among us...eventually giving us victory over death and the grave!




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