Sunday, December 10, 2017

Advent, Week 2 Life Requires Many Preparations

New Beginnings: See? I am doing a new thing. --God

Advent, Week 2 Life Requires Many Preparations

(purple candle: "Preparation", a.k.a. 'the Bethlehem candle)

Last week, the first week of Advent, we considered the (purple) candle of Hope and noted that the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus, was a fulfillment of prophecy. More importantly, the people walking in darkness (all of us have done so) saw the Light shine on our lives, and He walked us into Hope. Today we focus on the (purple) Candle of Preparation.

Our lives are filled with daily tasks, special occasions, and traditions, which require numerous preparations. Some situations require more time and planning than others. . For example, most married couples will regale you with mishaps that occurred during their wedding preparations. When we set, and changed our wedding date three times, Steve and I found ourselves empathizing with those narratives. Our immediate challenge was deciding on a venue, which was not an easy task, because the Salvation Army Officer (pastor) chosen to officiate our ceremony lived in Toronto, Ontario. Meanwhile Steve and I lived in different cities, outside of Toronto; his family resided in Alberta; and my parents, lived in the Montreal-area of Quebec, but health issues prevented them from travelling. In addition to planning for our daily lives and for special occasions, we know that annual family traditions require advanced preparations. For instance, we know that Christmas traditions help ground us, promote continuity between family generations, and require yearly planning. Plus, new traditions are often created when a family expands to include spouses and their children. Yet even traditional family gatherings have unexpected outcomes. The bottom line is that life takes planning and many preparations. 

And, unquestionably, it’s nice when our plans come together, but our choices don’t always work out the way we had anticipated. Certainly Mary, the mother of Jesus, wasn’t prepared for the events surrounding her pregnancy. In fact, she hadn’t planned to get pregnant until after she was married. Nor had she foreseen the rocky and dangerous trip to Bethlehem to register for the census decreed by Caesar Augustus, especially when she was close to giving birth. Furthermore, Mary and Joseph expected to find cozy, warm lodgings when they arrived. Instead, she gave birth in a drafty, cold stable, wrapped her new baby in strips of cloth and laid Him in an animal trough for a crib—instead of the lovingly crafted and beautiful cradle that Joseph, a carpenter, would have surely created. So, in the midst of all these obstacles, expectations had to be adjusted and hasty preparations made.

Yet one of the most important preparations that Mary and Joseph made occurred long before their betrothal. They loved God and kept their hearts and spirits open to His leading. This enabled them to live their lives with hope and optimism in spite of the many events that had not gone according to their plans. In fact, their openness and sensitivity to God enabled them to act quickly when they received urgent directions for immediate and essential changes. How open are our spirits, hearts, and minds open to God's leading? As we make preparations in our homes and lives to celebrate this holy season of Advent, may we be sensitive and tuned in to what God is saying to us.

Suggest Bible readings:

Sunday        Matthew 18: 1-5

Monday       Luke 2: 1-7

Tuesday       Isaiah 25: 6-9

Wednesday   Isaiah 40: 1-5

Thursday     1 Peter 1: 1-13-23

Friday                  Matthew 14: 1-14

Saturday      John 14: 1-14

Blessings& Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer, (Pastor)

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