Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent. The gospel (Click the green-colored word "gospel" to view the reading) today reminds us of the birth of our Lord. The season of Advent, which is also the beginning of the liturgical year of the Church, is suppose to prepare us for Christmas. The name Advent means "coming". It refers to the coming of Christ in his birth at Bethlehem and to his coming as the Judge of all, at the end of time. It is a season of hope. This refers to our hope of His coming to restore all things to a glorious conclusion. So, are we preparing during this season of Advent for Christ's arrival? Have we made the most of this opportunity and season of the Church?|
Christmas, the feast of the nativity of our Lord has become one of the chief feasts of the Christian year. It is second only to Easter. The celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25th was first introduced in Rome in the middle of the fourth century. The date was not determined by an exact knowledge of the date of Christ's birth nor from New Testament information, but seems to have been influenced by the pagan winter festivals. Despite the historical origins of Christmas, we in the Christian Church have adopted the feast as an important symbol in our Christian life. However, it is easy to forget the real meaning of Christmas especially because of the emphasis placed on the commercial aspect of the season. Yet this season affords us the opportunity to be ever mindful that Christ is always present with us.
Has an opportunity ever knocked on your door and you were so caught up in other things, that it slipped through your fingers? I'm convinced that it has happened to all of us! But I pray that we would wake to the opportunities around us! An author remarked, "We don't need to pray for more miracles, we just need to be more sensitive to the opportunities that God brings our way." Why is it that some people seem to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way, while others allow opportunities to pass them by? It's easy to say, "Well, they were just lucky." I don't think luck has anything to do with it: they were just more sensitive to the opportunity!
I love the story about the shoe salesman that went to Africa. He was there two weeks and he wrote his company back a letter saying, "Please bring me home, nobody wears shoes over here." they sent another salesman in his place and in a couple of weeks, he sent a letter back to the company saying, "Please send all the shoes you can, because everybody here needs shoes"
We must realize that Christmas is a symbol of God's presence with us and it is a symbol also of God's love for and commitment to this world, which is a creation of God. Too often we spend our time trying to hold on to what is passing away, wanting what we have not got and regretting what we no longer have. We live in the past and forget the present. We constantly put off doing things for tomorrow over and over. We enclose ourselves in our memories but there is the reality of the WORD made flesh who still dwells among us. This is Christ the greatest gift of all. For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. Christ is always new, because the present is always young and refreshing. We need to realize that the present is always young and refreshing. We need to realize that the present is a sign of God's commitment to this world and that the birth at Bethlehem is still today; it takes place at any moment in the depths of our souls. So let Christmas be more than a time of partying, let it be more than just a relief from the pressures of work or school and let it be more than pretty decorations or mad dashes to stores to buy gifts. Mind you, the exchange of gifts is good as we ought to show others that we love and appreciate them, but this must not be all that Christmas means to us. Let us try to experience Christmas differently. Let us remember that Christ is ever present. Let us remember that Christmas is a sign of God's invitation to celebrate his love personally by welcoming Christ into our hearts, not just at Christmas but everyday of our lives.
In the words of William Barclay:
"The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is to never forget the presence of Christ". So let us make the most of the opportunities that are afforded us everyday."
from Rev’d. Fr. Collin Humes