Monday, November 29, 2010

First Week in Advent - Hope

Yeah! It's Christmas time. I LOVE Christmas. It is my absolute, favorite time of the year. My sister would tell you I love it because of the presents, and yes, that is part of it, but it is not all of it. I love the decorations. I love that everyone seems happier. I love that we get to sing and listen to Christmas carols whenever we want to for at least four weeks (more if you start the week before Thanksgiving like I do). I love the hustle and bustle and all the anticipation that is in the air as the countdown towards Christmas begins.

Anticipation is everywhere in the Christmas season. It is in the eyes of children as they wonder what Santa will bring them. It is in the laughter of the parents as they look forward to that first magical moment on Christmas morning. It is in the holy hush of the congregation on Christmas Eve after the last notes of "Silent Night" fade away in the stillness as the service ends.

Anticipation. Expectation. Hope.

In this first week of Advent, we look forward in hope to the coming of Christ. He is the reason we have this time of celebration. Christ is the reason we have any hope at all. The stockings on the mantle, the decorations, and the parties are all wonderful, but they are not central to the meaning of Christmas. On Christmas morning 2000 years ago, God gave us the best gift we will ever get - the gift of hope. Because Jesus Christ was born, we have hope of forgiveness. Because Jesus Christ was born, we have hope for reconciliation. Because Jesus Christ was born, we have hope for eternal life. And that, is a much better gift than anything anyone on earth can give to you that comes in a box or a bag.

God has given us this wonderful gift that we cannot match, but we can share. We can pass on this gift of hope to others. During this season of Advent where we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Messiah, we can share hope with people who do not have it.

Live Oak is doing its first Christmas project this year in the first Christmas of its existence. We are in the process of 'adopting' 18 kids for Christmas this year. They range in age from 1-17 and come from all walks of life with one thing in common - their families need a little hope. They need some help in order to celebrate Christmas this year and we are going to help them be able to do just that.

Christmas is about Christ: The greatest gift the world has ever received. Surely, when we so readily accept the gift of hope that came with Christ's birth, we can in turn be generous and share that gift of hope with others.

Chesney Szaniszlo

- "For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6