One of the advantages of being an Anglican – and there are many – is that we observe and celebrate the church season of Advent. Advent is simply the four weeks leading up to the Incarnation (Christmas), the birth of Christ. During Advent, Christians focus on the First (birth) and Second Comings of Jesus. It’s a period of introspection, prayer, as well as anticipation.
One of the things I caution our Trinity Family about is not to jump too far ahead. In other words, take time to contemplate and anticipate. Don’t jump ahead to Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. Don’t stress out; instead, take time to enjoy the season.
Now don’t misunderstand. I love the Christmas Season. I hum Christmas carols throughout the year. I can’t wait until that day after Thanksgiving when the radio stations start playing Christmas music around the clock. I love the weather. I love the lights. I love seeing children’s eyes light up. I love Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movies. But I try not to jump ahead to Christmas morning without first going through the Advent season of preparation anticipation.
At Trinity, we do that by reading the Lectionary readings of Jesus telling us to be alert to the signs of His Second Coming, of John the Baptist preparing the way, of singing “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” “Because He Lives,” “The Light of Christ,” and Chris Tomlin’s “Hymn of Joy.” We ease into Advent and try to prepare our hearts and minds for what the Incarnation and Second Coming mean to each of us.
In 2006, in my Christmas Eve Children’s Sermon, I quoted from a Dr. Seuss book: “And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling – “How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!
“And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas, he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
I then made a promise to the children. I said in 10 years, I was going to ask them what they got for Christmas in 2006. I promised them they wouldn’t remember their gifts. But what they would remember is the joy of Christmas, how much they love their family, how much they liked to sing Christmas carols. And I said that’s because Jesus is the most important gift they have ever received. Jesus is more important that a wii or iPad or Xbox. God loves each one of us so much He gave us Jesus Christ that, whoever believes in Him, will live forever.
Jesus is the best gift any of us will ever receive.
I’ll close with the words from one of my favorite pieces of Christmas music – “Angels From the Realms of Glory.” I believe it sums up the meaning and importance of the Incarnation.
“Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains.
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.
Come and worship come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.”
Christmas is a rescue operation. The world was and is being held hostage – by Satan – and God sent Jesus Christ to save us. All we have to do is accept our rescue and acknowledge and thank our rescuer.
Come and worship at Trinity. Christmas Eve our Family Service is at 5 p.m. Our Traditional Lessons and Carols service is at 9 p.m. And then, the next morning, Christmas morning, we’ll have a service at 10 a.m. Come and worship the newborn King at our new church – 18900 FM 1431, just five miles from Cedar Park and Leander. Trinitychurchlagovista.org. 512/917-5330.
The Rev. Dale L. Chrisman is Rector of Trinity Anglican Church.