What are your Christmas traditions?
Is there an event (like Thanksgiving) that must pass before you can decorate for Christmas? Do you have that one special decoration you put up every year?
When is ok to start playing Christmas music? Is there something you absolutely, positively eat or drink for Christmas?
Are there some “must do’s” every year? Go look at lights, Go to church on Christmas Eve? Somehow our family, over my objections, started an everyone wears matching pajamas tradition. It's not my favorite. Full discolosure this is not my family but you get the idea!
How about a set time for opening presents? Even though I am often labeled as no-fun and a grinch I try to hold the line to not opening presents until Christmas Eve (even then only 1 or 2) and the rest on Christmas day.
It is fun to hear all the different ways people celebrate and the traditions they have.
Traditions are great when they enhance meaning, connect us to old memories and inspire us to engage people with a renewed energy. When traditions are old ruts we get stuck in and mindlessly continue they chip away at our contentment.
Did you know the church has a Christmas tradition of its own? Of course, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but I am referring to a way of celebrating the birth.
Since at least 480 AD the church has celebrated what is known as Advent. As you would guess it has changed some over the last 1,550 years!
For instance, the original version of advent included fasting 3 days a week for the six weeks leading up to Christmas (kind of glad we don’t do that, it would kill Thanksgiving).
Over the years, candles, wreathes, special colors and other things were added to the observance.
Advent is a season dedicated to celebrating the arrival or "advent" of Jesus. During the four-week period leading up to Christmas, Jesus followers engage in prayer, meditation, and Scripture study that emphasizes hope, peace, love, and joy.
Christians from many backgrounds celebrate this time, and while their practices may look different, all focus on the hope-filled arrival of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah.
At my church, Mt. Ridge, we have celebrated this in various ways over the years. This year, we started Sunday, November 27th. Every person in our church is encouraged to follow along. By attending worship together each week and by daily engaging truth about Jesus’ arrival written in the Bible it brings us hope, peace, love and joy.
Sunday, we introduced a 7-day devotion on peace to help you make Christmas a meaningful time. This guide will give a 10-15 bite sized experience to help you move forward. It is not to late to join us. Click on the link for this week’s guide! The next Sunday we will look at love and provide a new experience to engage.
The final week will focus on Joy and conclude with our Christmas Eve services. These simple practices make Christmas real and powerful.
It’s a tradition. I hope it is a tradition you find meaningful, connecting and inspiring.
You may not be able to participate in every part of advent this year. I hope you will participate as much as you can. The arrival of Jesus is worth adjusting your schedule.
I am eagerly anticipating celebrating Christmas with you. I hope you will take the time to refresh your heart with hope, enrich your soul with peace, know you are loved and love well as you experience the joy of being a follower of Jesus.
Christmas Eve wouldn’t be the same without you. Join us for one of our Christmas Eve services and bring someone with you. Service run from December 23rd - 25th.
Need info about the service times? Check out Christmas @ Mountain Ridge
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