Monday, November 30 Malachi 3:1-2

“See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight–indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” Malachi 3:1-2

I was a “late arriver” to the Lutheran tribe of the Christian church. Although I had been baptized as an infant, I didn’t join a Lutheran church until the last Saturday of the summer before my junior year in college. When I went off to the seminary, I arrived after having only worshipped that one time in my “home congregation.” I had a lot of learning to do.

One of the discoveries I made was the liturgical church calendar. I had never heard of that before – and I think there are probably lots of people on this list who haven’t heard of that before as well. So this week I’ll take a quick trip through the highlights of the way that many Christians organize time through the year. Today we look at the first two seasons of the year, Advent and Christmas.

Each of the seasons has a theme, a color and, sometimes, key traditions. Advent is the first season of the year. It runs for the four Sundays preceding Christmas. The color is blue which you will see on the cloth on the altar table and pulpit, the pastors’ stoles, etc. The word itself comes from a Latin word meaning “the coming.” It is the root word of “adventure” which captures some of the excitement of the Advent theme of waiting for what is coming.

Many congregations will use an advent wreath this December. The four candles of the wreath represent the themes of each Sunday (there are lots of different traditions for what those weeks represent) and one candle is lit each week. Sometimes children use Advent calendars with little doors that lead to Christmas.

During Advent, we listen to the Bible as it sets the stage for Christmas. We’ll hear from John the Baptist and the Old Testament prophecies of the birth of the Messiah. We wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas but we also wait for the final appearance of Jesus and the “end of the story.”

Hope, anticipation and preparedness leads to the Christmas season. The Christmas season lasts for 12 days. (Yes, just like the song says.) The color is white and the theme is the incarnation, the birth of Jesus.

Over the course of these two seasons, we will all feel the interior pull of Christmas, the stress and the anticipation and the fear and the heightened expectations. We will feel torn between the spirituality of the season and the materialism of our culture. We will welcome Christmas carols and we will tire of them. We will experience our lives being “stirred up” as the prayer of the day said this past Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent: “Stir up your power, O Lord, and come….”

Advent and Christmas are living reminders to us – liturgically and experientially – that God is actively at work in our lives and our world, whether or not we attend worship. God is always up to something…so we wait. And then God shows up in the most common of ways…and we wonder at the mystery of it all.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, as we come into this week, returning to life after Thanksgiving and now preparing for the holidays, the holy days, we pray that you might stir up your power and come into us in new and refreshing ways this season. Fill us with hope and anticipation and watch over us as we get ready for the surprises that you will bring our way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Monday, November 30 Malachi 3:1-2”

  1. Bill Wagner Says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for your explanation of the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas. However Nov. 29 was already the first Sunday of Advent, not “this next Sunday” as you say. Not sure how the confusion arose, but your post is Nov. 30, so we have already enjoyed one of the “Stir up” prayers.
    Bill

  2. Lorene Halsey Says:

    I have missed the Daily Devotions. Want you to know how much I need them each and every day. Been a fan of yours for years now and continue to pass your messages around to other people.
    It has been a very tough year for me and your devotions keep me focused.
    Thank you for the time you give to me each day.
    God Bless
    Reenie

  3. Peggy Says:

    Pastor Kerry, That was the most beautiful message about Advent and Christmas that I have heard. Thank you for sharing it with me and reminding me of the real meaning of Advent and Christmas. I hope you have and wonderful holiday season!!! Love Peggy Suggs.

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