The term “Advent” comes from the Latin “Adventus,” meaning “arrival.” For Christians, Advent is a time of anticipation and preparation for the arrival of Christ. This year Advent begins Sunday Nov. 30 and lasts until Christmas Eve. Unlike the retail world, “Christmas season” for Christians doesn’t begin until Christmas Eve (and lasts 12 days until Epiphany Jan. 6).
In our excitement for Christmas morning we often overlook the importance of Advent—December arrives and we jump right into “Joy to the World” when we really need to be singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Christ will call us to new ideas and new ways of being and loving this year. There will be big changes in our lives and world, and we must get ready.
The hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is on my mind often, but especially during Advent. In times of frustration and sadness my heart longs for the peace of Christ to all at once erase fear, panic, hate. Like my two-year-old I find myself crying to God, “Do for me, please!” And God always replies, “No. You have to learn to do this for yourself. But I’ll help you.” We are created of love and to love—we just have to get out of our own way and honor the holy in one another. Pray this month for the people you think may not need it, for people you may disagree with or even dislike. Really, truly pray for your enemies, however you define them, and maybe you’ll start to discover why God loves them just as much as God loves you.
In this month’s Bible study Garlinda Burton talks about the importance of playing second fiddle. We’re not all called to sing the solo. The roles of melody are no less important. United Methodist Women members know that sometimes the best way to do the work of God is to support others who are doing the work of God. Your Mission Giving does this every day. It creates first fiddlers, second fiddlers, and fiddlers who were never given a fiddle before. Who in your United Methodist Women group or church congregation could use a little cheerleading, a little help this month?
This issue includes the list of 2015 Reading Program books. Advent is the perfect time to begin a new Reading Program book as an individual or group. Set aside daily or weekly time to read. Include this reading as part of your journaling as guided by the Rev. Dionne P. Boissière in “Journal Through the Advent Season.”
Part of preparing for the good news of Christ’s birth is understanding where that good news is needed most. Read “Help for New Moms in Kentucky,” “AIDS: Small Steps, Big Dreams” and “Gaza: Finding Truth Amid Broken Bodies, Hearts and Homes” to hear from some of our marginalized neighbors. May Christmas this year bring those relegated to the edges closer to the table of abundance, and may Christmas bring you peace and joy.