Sunday Scriptures — First Day of Advent

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Today is the first day of Advent 2017. It is a time set aside to reflect on the coming of the Good News to the world through the announcement of Jesus the Messiah’s birth. It is a time to prepare our hearts to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas before the hustle-bustle of the season takes over.

A devotional I once read put it this way. “Advent is a time of preparation and expectation. It is a time of hope and faith and longing. Our anticipation rises during Advent and then our hopes are fulfilled on Christmas with the birth of Jesus.”

Sometimes in our preparation for Christmas Day we might busy ourselves with long to-do lists, and end up exhausted. Sometimes we might allow others’ ideas of what Christmas should look like highjack our celebration, leaving us resentful of their demands. Sometimes the various situations in our life may steal our joy right out from under us. When any of these things happens, we might find the expectation and peace we hoped to experience nowhere to be found.

Today Pilot and I will light the first candle of our Advent Wreath, and as we do, I will recommit to centering my thoughts on the Gift God graciously sent into our world. I will focus on the flickering candle and think of Jesus. The Light of the World who left his throne in heaven, came into our world, lived a sinless life, yet died for the sins of the world, was resurrected, and now sits at the Father’s right hand in heaven so that through Jesus we can have eternal life.

And I will wait in hope and expectation for his return.

Is the Advent Wreath part of your Christmas tradition? If so, do you prefer red and white, or pink and purple candles?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Luke 1:26-33 (NTL)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Advent

Isaiah 40By Sandy Kirby Quandt

November 30, 2014. The first day of Advent. The time set aside to reflect on the coming of the Good News to the world through the announcement of Jesus the Messiah’s birth. A time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas before the hustle-bustle of man’s commercialism inundates and overwhelms.

According to a devotional I read last year, “Advent is a time of preparation and expectation. It is a time of hope and faith and longing. Our anticipation rises during Advent and then our hopes are fulfilled on Christmas with the birth of Jesus.”

For Mary the mother of Jesus, her preparation, expectation, and anticipation lasted throughout her nine months of pregnancy. This was a time of hope and faith for her, too.

For many of us, our preparation begins and ends with the outward expressions of the arrival of December 25. We decorate, bake, clean, shop, visit, attend festive parties and holiday performances…

Sometimes we busy ourselves with others’ expectations, and find we are exhausted and maybe even a little resentful of those demands.

Part of my Advent tradition is lighting one candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. On the 25th, Jesus’ birthday, the fifth candle is lit.

Is the Advent Wreath part of your tradition, too? If so, might I suggest we make it more than a ritual or habit? More than something else to check off our already too busy to-do list?

Don’t you think we should use it as an additional time to reflect on what Jesus’ birth means to us, to the world, as we light those candles?

God didn’t send his son into this world to condemn it, but he sent Jesus so we all could be saved through him.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Luke 1:26-33 (NTL)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Holiday Blues

Christkindl-Markt Marienplatz, Munich
Photo Squandt

According to many studies, holidays increase feelings of loneliness and despair in people. Whether it is because they have lost loved ones, or because they have high expectations of renewed happiness during the holidays, which don’t materialize. Throw in SAD, and some of us may feel as if we should hibernate until springtime.

As I’ve mentioned before, my dad died in 1980. Just this past week, I spiraled into a funk while shopping, because I saw giant peppermint sticks for sale. Just like the ones Dad used to give me at Christmas.

There are several widows in my acquaintance who will spend their first Christmas this year, without their mates. My sister, California Girl, being one of them.

There are countless tales of broken dreams. Lost loved ones. Unfulfilled desires, and messed up plans. So, how do we manage to put one foot in front of the other during times when things just seem so wrong?

The following suggestions are by no means a “thus sayeth”. They are merely things I’ve observed.

For one thing, stay away from the Hallmark and Lifetime Channels. Even if the guy gets the girl by the end of the movie, and maybe, because the guy gets the girl, those movies, more times than not, are depressing. Turn them off.

Go through your DVDs. Check out movies from your library. Watch something funny. Something uplifting. Watch The Princess Bride for the umpteenth time. (Inconceivable!) Watch a musical, just not The King and I. The ending makes me cry every time.

Lose yourself in a mystery. How about Foyle’s War? If all else fails, what about viewing It’s a Wonderful Life, or The Christmas Story? (You’ll shoot your eye out!)

Go to free holiday events. Window shop. People-watch. Purchase something for yourself. Volunteer for a worthy cause. Get in touch with a friend you haven’t spoken to for awhile.

Listen to music you enjoy. One suggestion, if you’re really in a funk, listen to something snappy that sets your feet to tapping, that you can warble out loud to. Avoid those beautiful ballads like, My Heart Will Go On, and The Way We Were, unless you really need to cry it out. If that’s the case, set a limit to how long you’ll give yourself to feel the pain.

Make new traditions, if you need to.

Life is not static. It moves and flows with each breath we take. It is okay to change things up a bit. If it doesn’t work, try something different.

Bavarian Winter
Photo SQuandt

So, where is our hope amid the bleak mid-winter? Our hope is found in a baby who was born in a manger, so many years ago.

Watch the video of Mark Lowery’s beautiful song, Mary Did You Know? which I list among my favorites.

Then, six months after Zacharias’ vision, the angle Gabriel was sent from God to a Galilean town, Nazareth by name, to a young woman who was engaged to a man called Joseph. The girl’s name was Mary. The angel entered her room and said, “Greetings to you, Mary. O favoured one!-the Lord be with you!

Mary was deeply perturbed at these words and wondered what such a greeting could possibly mean. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; God loves you dearly. You are going to be the mother of a son, and you will call him Jesus. He will be great and will be known as the Son of the most high. The Lord God will give him the throne of his forefather, David, and he will be king over the people of Jacob for ever. His reign shall never end.” Luke 1:26-33 (PHILLIPS)

What’s the best way you know to get out of a funk?  Especially during the holidays.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Falling in Love With You