Advent, Christmas, and Hopefully a Happy New Year

Dec 8, 2016 by

Advent, Christmas, and Hopefully a Happy New Year

Now that the Advent season has begun, I am beginning to be more hopeful with each passing day. This year has been a tough one for me. I was hospitalized three times this year with heart problems. Prior to this year I had only been in the hospital twice in my life.  I spent a good portion of the year grieving over the death of my beloved dog Max. Max had been my constant companion and great source of love and happiness for 12 years. His death left a gaping hole in my heart and life. Max kept me busy.  I took him for a walk every morning and almost daily we took a ride to one of the nearby parks for another walk. His absence left me with a lot of time that I suddenly had no way to fill. I never really descended into depression, but I did find myself crying much too often. I have yet to scatter his ashes, I’m waiting for December 23rd, the day Max died, to do that.

So being festive, joyful, and happy, with Christmas this year being so close to the anniversary of Max’s death, has been something I didn’t think I would be. But strangely I am feeling the Holiday spirit in a way I never thought I would again. I have been Christmas shopping, and enjoying it, and decorating the church for Advent. While I don’t have a tree to put up myself, I have helped my friend Teresa decorate hers. While picking up poinsettia’s for church at the local nursery I really enjoyed the winter wonderland that the nursery had setup. I enjoyed last Christmas season right up until the day Max died so suddenly. I am finding that I am enjoying this one almost as much.

I am looking forward to seeing the train display that a local church is sponsoring, and looking forward to seeing my son Jason and my family for Christmas breakfast December 17th. While I still don’t have plans for Christmas day yet, I expect to have a wonderful Christmas. Max will always be a part of my Christmas, even though he is no longer with me. I choose to remember only the joy and happiness Max blessed me with, and will put away my grief as best I can.

Christmas season is by far the best season of all. The anticipation of celebrating the birth of my Savior, the Christmas  music, Christmas lights and decorations, seeing family, food, and just the very special feeling that comes only with Christmas has lifted my spirits to the highest they have been in this difficult year. I find myself busy with a myriad of things now, when for the first few months of the year I had lost interest in doing just about everything, I had put on weight because I was not taking walks with Max anymore. But now I am taking courses on Gimp2, and Adobe Lightroom through Udemy.com. I am back out taking photographs again, as well as reading books and taking little excursions. I find myself pressed for time to do all the things I want to do where earlier in the year the days stretched emptily.

So I am thinking the New Year will be a good one. I have a new dog, Cali, a treeing walker coonhound, to keep me company as well as occupied. My days will hopefully be filled with new and exciting things to do. I plan on spending much more time reading the Bible, in prayer, and doing church business. I hope to get back to exercising more, and maybe even take a vacation somewhere exotic, or as exotic as a 67 year old man can stand. I am both thankful and hopeful.

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The Spirit of Advent

Dec 12, 2008 by

The word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Advent is the beginning of the church year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance.

One of my favorite Advent scripture readings is Luke 1:67-80

The dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Edmund H. Sears, a Unitarian parish minister and author is best know for his composition of the quintessentially Unitarian Christmas carol, “It Came upon the Midnight Clear.”  Some of the lyrics from that carol convey the essence of Advent and what it means to Christians.

For lo! the days are hastening on,

by prophet seen of old,

when with the ever-circling years

shall come the time foretold

when peace shall over all the earth

its ancient splendors fling,

and the whole world send back the song

which now the angles sing.

(Edmund H. Sears, 1849)

As a Christian, Advent and the birth of Jesus Christ are the most joyous occasions of the year. This is the time of the year when the spirit of the Lord is strongest in me. It is a time of great joy and rejoicing. It is the time when I am most optimistic about the world and mankind. Am I excited about the Christmas gifts that I will be opening Christmas Day? Yes. But that excitement is nothing compared to the joy and wonder that the birth of Jesus Christ fills me with. Now if we could just get a little snow on the ground before Christmas…..

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