I remember when...
I used to wait with anticipation for the first Advent candle to be lit in the church my family attended.
Officially (at least in my mind), it marked the start of the Christmas celebration.
And...Oh! How! Magical!
As a small child, I loved everything Christmas...
Colored lights - on the tree inside and adorning the roof line outside.
Two weeks of school vacation.
Shopping (which is unusual, because I AM NOT A SHOPPER BY NATURE).
The free Saturday matinee at my dad's theater right before Christmas Eve.
Santa Claus, with his jolly "Ho! Ho! Ho!" - a ready knee, and a listening ear to hear my whispered requests...
Candy Canes and Sugar Cookies (with lots of icing!).
Merry Christmas greetings and good-byes.
In my head, I knew Christmas wasn't just about Santa Claus and presents, after all, we had a nativity scene spread out across the top of our console TV.
In my heart, though, Christmas really was about me...
...52 years ago, when I intimately and eagerly entered into, and developed, an ever deepening relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ, the one born of a Virgin, the Sinless Son-of-God, who came to earth to die as payment for my sins.
Jesus: the reason for the season.
So, the first Advent candle has been lit...the candle of HOPE.
With the lighting of each candle, we mark the days until we celebrate the first coming of Jesus, but, we also deliberately mark the fact that He is coming again!
In the meantime, we wait for the Advent.
Not just with presents and decorations and candy canes, but with an invitation to slow down and make each day of waiting count.
Advent is an ancient invitation to slow down.
This week, to mark the days of waiting, I want to let the candle of hope remind me that if I truly have entered into relationship with the Son-born-to die-and-raise-again-on-our-behalf, then, I am God's walking, breathing, living hope.
You and I...
We are to be Hope-Dispensers in the middle of the wait.
Is there any question our world needs more hope and a PLACE / PERSON to do so with certainty?
So, this week...
Let's be a pharmacy of hope to a world, like the one Jesus entered as a babe, that has very little of it.
Hope is a rare commodity...but, I/You/We have it in abundance because of Jesus.
Who around us needs a little extra poured out to make this season a little more MERRY?
It's sure not going to be found in the "Christmas magic" we put up around our homes.
It's only found in Jesus.
By the way, God the Father did not command we celebrate Advent, or Christmas, or even Easter, for that matter.
Celebrating Advent is a glorious, God-given OPPORTUNITY.
I want to make it count.
So, YeS!, putting aside all the superficial things we do to typically memorialize the season, let's #simplycelebrateJesus.