I cannot count how many times in the last week I have heard people say, "I Can't believe that Christmas is almost here!" I must agree that it seems like the fall flew by. I don't want that to happen to Advent and Christmas. I want to enjoy every minute of it. I want to make this year special, and keep Christ at the center of all of my holiday celebrations. But, in such a fast pace world, how do we do that? As I begin Advent, I am turning to the wisdom of Mark Abley to help me keep things in perspective.
In his book Spoken Here Mark Abley describes the opening prayer that is traditionally a part of any Iroquois gathering or assembly. The most interesting part of the prayer is its name. Though it is called the "Iroquois Thanksgiving Address", a literal translation of its name is "the words that come before all else." This is a powerful phrase. It reminds us of the true purpose of opening prayer. It helps us remember that before we begin the business of the day, we need to stop and give thanks to God. Only after focusing our attention on and praising God, the source of all of life, can our words, thoughts, and action be placed in proper perspective. Putting God first changes how we approach everything else that we do.
As we start Advent and begin our Christmas preparations it is important that we remember "the words that come before all else." Soon we will be busy attending Christmas parties, buying presents, and decorating our homes. But, why are we doing all of this? What is the purpose of our preparations and the point of our celebrations? Unless we stop and place Christ at the beginning of our festivities and at the center of the season, than none of it matters.
I encourage you to join us for worship throughout the Advent season and to spend time each day in devotion, reading scripture, and praying. Use your time of worship and study to place God before all else. Allow worship to shape you holiday activities. I encourage you to approach this festive season with an attitude of thanksgiving, remembering that first and foremost it is a season of faith. When we do this then all of our celebrations have more meaning. The real reason that we go to parties, buy presents, and decorate our homes will be first in our mind. The season will energize us instead of wearing us out, and our Christmas truly will be merry and blessed.
Your brother in Christ,