Even though it is heresy to most people, my family and I put up our Christmas tree this past Monday. This is one of my favorite times. The kids help decorate and my son ran around screaming about how excited he was. Then my wife and I put the kids to bed, drink cider and watch Christmas Vacation.
I think Christmas Vacation is one of the all time great comedies. I have seen it a hundred times. I could quote every line.
But we watch it every year.
I love this tradition. The movie never gets old to me. And with each Christmas, I create new memories to accompany the movie.
In this tradition we begin our anticipation of Christmas, we enjoy the laughter in the present, and we are reminded of the good times connected with the tradition in the past.
This is the power of repeating a tradition. And it is the power of celebrating another Advent.
Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year. We are another year older, have another year of experiences under our belt and have traveled through the depths of Lent, the joys of Easter and the Ordinary-ness of the last few months.
And we return again to these four things: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
We revisit them because we need it. We need these reminders over and over again. But we bring with us a whole new set of experiences. We are reminded this week of what we learned about hope in the past, places it carried us through over the last year, and anticipate the new directions it may take us over the next 12 months.
So as we begin this season, remember we have been here before. Remember there is a fresh word here and now. And remember we will be here again.
Specifically this week begin to ask yourself: What do I hope for? Where do I place my hope? Am I moving towards those things in my life? What gave me hope this past year? Where did I misplace hope this past year? What do I hope for this Advent season?
And why does Jesus being in the world bring hope?
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there the thrones for judgment were set up,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
and security within your towers.”
For the sake of my relatives and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
God we thank you for the last year
We thank you for how you were with us
In good times and bad,
Whether we saw you or not
We thank you for the Advent season
We thank you for the reminders of the God who is with us in Jesus
We thank you for hope
We thank you for the places we have been hopeful this past year
We give you the places where despair took root
We ask this season that you turn us again to the hope and the movement towards hope
Which you bring along as well celebrate your presence in the World.
And we ask this all through Jesus.