Dear Sabbath Seekers,
The Christmas carols are playing everywhere you go these days except in many churches. Church-goers complain mightily that the hymns during this time of the year are not Christmas carols and not ones they enjoy singing. The reason for this, as many a pastor will tell you, is that this is Advent. We haven’t reached Christmas and its season of celebration yet. Advent is a time of waiting and quietly reflecting on the light that this world so desperately needs to see. However, waiting, being quiet and reflecting on what we really need does not suit the bottom line of stores who are eager to begin racking up Christmas sales in October.
So every store we walk into is blaring Joy to the World or Silent Night while there seems to be anything but around us. If Santa Claus brings enough toys to put sales in the black and make all the little boys and girls happy, then we will be joyful and finally take a long winter’s rest.
Or will we?
We know in our heart of hearts that joy doesn’t come in a jolly old elf with a round little belly. Joy comes in the muck and mud of a homeless, unwed couple tucked away in a dirty barn or cave awaiting the birth of their baby who will come amid blood, sweat and tears. No wonder we had to pretty it up and add a dash of red, reindeer and romance combined with holiday parties, presents and procrastination.
Advent is the antidote to that exhaustion if we are wise enough to embrace it. The carol, “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” reminds us:
“How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.”
It is in the silence that the gift is given and if we aren’t silent, then how will we know when the gift has arrived. Advent and Sabbath are both times of stopping to listen for the gift that God wants to impart to us – time to reflect on what is really important – a life in God’s care.
Advent is almost over and the Christmas celebration will officially begin but there are still 52 Sabbath opportunities every year to stop, rest, reflect and listen for the blessing of heaven that God sends to us.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all who make Sabbath a priority in their lives.
“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2.20