Reading (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Tomorrow is December 1st and for many people this will mark the beginning of the build up to Christmas as they open the first door in their advent calendar. We aim to have as traditional an advent calendar as we can in our house, one that as you open the doors tells the story of the first Christmas, the fact that it comes with a piece of chocolate each day is just a bonus.
Last Sunday we marked the first Sunday in Advent and with that the lighting of the first candle on the advent wreath. We have an advent wreath at home, it is a tradition that goes right back to my childhood. I love lighting that first candle and seeing the small light shining in the darkness of a winter’s day, knowing that each week the light will grow stronger as more candles are lit, until finally on Christmas day we celebrate the light of Jesus that came into the world.
Rob and I were in Scaldwell church on Sunday afternoon getting everything ready for advent. We changed the altar cloth to purple, we decorated and put out the advent wreath and placed the nativity set out. This year we have two nativity sets in the church as I have painted nativity figures on cardboard to go around the church. I painted the kings last year and decided that this year it would be good to have the rest of the figures to complete the scene.
I painted Mary in a blue outfit as is traditional and I really enjoyed painting the sheep for the shepherds, but the biggest challenge came when I needed to paint baby Jesus. I became aware of just how small he was. He was the most important figure in the entire scene and yet he was so small and wrapped in cloths.
Advent is a wonderful season of anticipation as we look forward to Christmas and celebrating God’s light coming into the world. As December progresses more and more lights will appear in our houses and in our streets. Christmas trees have already started to appear with their fairy lights shining. We live in a world of darkness, you only need to see the news to know that this is true. The world needs the light of Jesus more than ever. God loved the world so much that he sent his son as a baby, a fact that continues to amaze me. May we be left in awe and wonder as we gaze upon the baby in the manger during advent and over Christmas.
Father God, thank you that you loved us so much that you sent Jesus into our world as a vulnerable baby. May we never take for granted what it meant for Jesus to leave heaven and come down to earth.