Matthew 3:1-3 – In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'" (NRSV)
I was looking for a Bible that I had bought from the Robert Simpson Company many, many years ago. Although I didn't find my Bible, which I had likely put in a secure place, in my search, I came upon a book with the title, In search of Christmas. I had never read this particular book until I salvaged it from a bookshelf in our basement.
As I glanced through it, it brought many things to mind, like all the things that people in today's world use, if they celebrate Christmas, not having any idea why, or what the things might mean. Let's follow the journey in search of Christmas using the Christmas tree, the gifts, and the candles.
The Christmas tree is an evergreen that never changes colour. It is a reminder of our God, Whose love for us in Christ is unchanging and everlasting.
As we gather together on Christmas Day around our Christmas tree, we open gifts, given in love. We give because lovingly God first gave salvation to us in Christ — a priceless gift too wonderful for words to describe.
Many people light candles to bring soft light into their homes. But in many Christian homes, purple or blue candles are lit one Sunday at a time during Advent to signify a spirit of self-examination and repentance. The custom has seen many adaptations, and here is one that you may not have heard of. The first candle symbolizes hope, with the prophet's candle reminding us that Jesus is coming. On the second Sunday, the Bethlehem candle is a symbol of faith and reminds us of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem. A pink candle on the third Sunday signifies joy, with the shepherd's candle reminding us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus. The fourth candle, the angels' candle, symbolizes peace, reminding us of the angels' message of peace on earth, goodwill toward men. A fifth, white candle is lit on Christmas Day, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the light of the world.
I pray that these thoughts will bring hope, faith, joy, and peace to those who may see in a new light the wondrous gift that God has given us in Christ. May we all approach this year's celebration in a new and different way as a result of our own personal search for Christmas.
Prayer: Most gracious heavenly Father, we come to You on this first day of Advent, praying with hope for those who do not know the true meaning of Christmas. We pray that they will find their way in Your true light. In the precious name of Jesus, our Redeemer and our only hope, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Come Thou Almighty King" (Lyrics)