Happy New Year

I hope you all had a full and happy celebration with whatever family and friends you were able to be near to start off the holiday season. Drew and I were beyond lucky this year and got to spend thanksgiving with both of our families at my parents’ new home in Atlanta, Georgia.

CardsEDIT

Our family taught Drew’s family our signature card game, Pitch, and we all got into it…it was INTENSE!

Our tummies and our hearts have felt very full since we have been able to connect with family and friends who aren’t so far away for the next couple of months. Though this season is very special to Drew and I, and many of us who enjoy getting together and celebrating the holidays, it is also a significant time for the Church as a whole.

I am not talking about the annual crusade to insert Christ back into Christmas, although many people are passionate about that as well and I certainly respect the heart behind the insistence.

Not only is the Thanksgiving/Christmas season an important time in our cultural calendar, but also it is deeply significant in the Church calendar, and this Sunday marked the beginning of Advent. This season is the beginning of the Church calendar and we can all celebrate a new year before the actual New Year as we prepare our hearts for the longing Advent brings. Together as the larger Church, we can celebrate Christ who has come and is coming again along with the oneness of us as His Bride, remembering and celebrating what God means to our community as a whole.

I would recommend, if you haven’t spent much time or thought on the season of Advent, take advantage of all the resources out there to learn more about its significance and meaning along with how your friends, family and by church can participate in this tradition alongside Christians around the world. I was inspired by this post from one of our former pastors from our church in Denver who helped introduce me to the significance of Church liturgy.

One of my favorite parts was his description of Advent as a way for us to all long for Christ’s second coming,

“Advent gives us space to recognize the ways in which sin has corrupted our world and to cry out with longing for God’s coming healing and restoration. This Advent, as we mourn the recent tragedies in our world, the hunger of the poor, and the daily injustices that we ourselves witness (and often participate in), we can call out longingly for God’s healing light as we anticipate the day when Christ will wipe away every tear from our eyes and make all things new.” – Rusty Gates

How fitting. Even as many of us were able to celebrate Thanksgiving joyfully with family and friends, many others have not been so lucky. Our headlines are telling a much more broken story of our world crying out for a Savior. However, our hope as Christians is much stronger than tragedy, though it is real and significant, He has overcome.

I was reminded of this in the Sunday Advent readings from The Common Book of Prayer,

“The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.” Psalm 146:9

So, before you rush away to get caught up in the season of giving, receiving and being together as Christians, take time to be alone with the Lord and reflect on the significance of this time before Christmas. I know the temptation, heck I have already rushed to Target for the supplies of the season…

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Exhibit A…

And while all the shopping and gifts are fun and important to many, let’s spend at least as much time preparing our hearts for the season as we do preparing the other fun things that are also to come.

As Jesus reminds us in his parable in Matthew 25,

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Verse 13)

Let us bring in this “New Year” as a Church longing and expecting for the new heaven and new earth being created in our midst.