The Evergreens of Advent

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Nov. 30, 2015

The Evergreens of Advent

Jeremiah 23:6

 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

One of my favorite traditions at the beginning of Advent is the “Hanging of the Greens” service. This is an opportunity for us to look at the various symbols of Advent and remember how they relate back to Christ.

Evergreens are a wonderful way we decorate our homes, churches and communities in preparation for Christmas. While many kinds of evergreens are
used, each unique variety points back to Christ:

  • Cedar represents Christ’s everlasting reign because he purifies our hearts;
  • Pine and fir trees do not die and a20151127_123827re signs of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
  • Round wreathes, with no beginning or end, recall how the Messiah’s reign is never-ending.
  • Holly and ivy grow during the dark, cold winter months. Their prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns Jesus wore at the crucifixion while the red berries represent Jesus’ blood.

My sister Debbie is a florist. She can magically take a few raw materials and arrange them into beautiful creations. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Debbie took various freshly cut evergreens, sticks, pine cones and ribbon and designed these gorgeous arrangements for in front of our house.

As beautiful as these planters are and as special as Debbie’s creations are, the evergreens point us back to whose birthday we celebrate. As we hang greens this Advent, may we see them as more than ways to spruce up our homes, churches and communities. May they point us back to the Christ child.

Lord God – the symbols of Advent and Christmas are all around us. As much as we enjoy seeing the beautiful greens, help us see how they point us back to your very special Son. Amen.

Blessings  –

Dianne

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Advent & Preparing

advent candlesPreparing and Advent

Nov. 29, 2015

Jeremiah 23:13

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, one of my favorite times of the year. Advent means “preparing.” The question is this: what ARE we preparing for?

Late summer, Rick and I moved unexpectedly. In the last three months, we’ve been preparing to make our new-to-us house a home. This 105-year-old+ Victorian house has needed some tender loving care. We know the previous owner loved this home. She just was not able to maintain it. So, we’ve been painting, refinishing the floors, gutting the kitchen and trying to bring back some of the original beauty. We’re trying to maintain the original character of a home built before indoor plumbing and yet making it practical and attractive for today.

The process of preparing this house into our home has taken much longer than I expected. Several weeks ago, I realized the house would not be ready for guests at Thanksgiving. We adjusted our goal and now pray we can have just part of this 17+ room house ready before Christmas. I continue to make lists of things that need to be done. As I contemplate these things in addition to my work schedule, it’s a little daunting. It’s the first Sunday of Advent. I know there is an Advent Wreath someplace in this house. I just have no clue where.

Why all this preparing? Because I want our first Christmas in this house to be special. I pray people can enter our house and feel the love of Christ radiating from our preparations. After months of eating at a patio set on paper plates and not knowing which box contains what belongings, I’m looking for at least some level of normalcy.

Here’s the catch. Am I preparing for the right thing? As I touch-up paint and unpack boxes and set-up my office, do I appreciate the preparing God did so the first Christmas would even happen? Are these preparations more important than seeing Jesus’ birth as the single most important birth ever?

I know the next several weeks will be filled with lots of activity. This is OK; as long as we make sure we prepare not just trees, cookies and cards. Along the way, we must also prepare our hearts for the Christ child’s arrival. The rest of the preparations really are not as necessary as preparing our hearts. Let’s move this to the top of our Advent preparation list.

Almighty God – as we lit the first Advent candle today, we are reminded of all the preparations You went through so there could even be a first Christmas. May the preparations we pursue these next few weeks keep in mind whose birthday we celebrate. Encourage us to focus on preparations that prepare our hearts to be open to the Christ child’s arrival. Amen.

Blessings  –

Dianne

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