It seems all we have seen lately is advertisements for Black Friday sales. Each store was gearing up for the traditional rush to purchase Christmas presents. This time leading up to black Friday is the advent for the companies. You see advent means “the coming or arrival of something, especially something extremely important”. For the business owners this time is extremely important to the bottom line for the year. It is so important to them that the ads seem to blur the real reason for the season.
For Christians Advent is to be the preparation time in anticipation of the arrival of our Savior. On the first Sunday of Advent I talked about the heart and what we place in our hearts. I believe each of us is born with a small desire for God. As we grow and mature we start placing other things in our heart that start to push God out or at least into a smaller corner. Many of these things are like corrosive acid which eats away at our lives.
First, I talked about bitterness and how when we are bitter it seems to destroy our lives. I encouraged those with bitterness to replace that with joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. This Christmas season have joy in your heart. Next I talked about finances taking up space in our heart. Most of our great nation is wealthier than 80% of the world population, but we worry about our portfolios and whether we are putting enough away for retirement. Replace finances with “God Provides”. The third thing I placed in the heart was anger, corrosive that needs to be replaced with peace. The fourth thing in the heart was fear. The media and news broadcasters continue to bring forth fear – fear of global warming, glacier melt, swine flu, terrorism, of being last, going broke or being laid off. Replace fear with trust. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”.
Next in the heart was unforgiveness, another acid that will destroy. Many books and articles have been written about unforgiveness, but I don’t have time to go into detail here. Most of you know if you have not forgiven someone. Replace that unforgiveness with forgiveness. We hear those words every time we recite the Lord’s prayer. The sixth thing in the heart was stress. We live in a society today that thinks we have to be stressed or we are not doing enough. Stress can kill. It is the cause of many diseases and can affect blood pressure and heart function and many other things. Let’s replace that stress with prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray without ceasing”. Prayer is where we should turn first in all things. The last thing I placed in the heart was the calendar. We plan our days so full that we have not time to even breathe it seems. I know from experience the first thing to go when we are too busy is church attendance and devotional time. I would like to encourage you to replace the calendar with the Bible. Spend time in it each day, read the Christmas story with family and become better acquainted with the greatest book on earth. The Bible is “basic instructions before leaving earth”. We need to be acquainted with it before we go on to eternity so we know how to live with one another in glory.
Page 2 of 2 - I would like you to think about doing some deep cleaning this Advent. I remember Mary talking to our kids about how her father taught her to sweep. You had to go completely to the corner and all along the edge to get the room, the truck or whatever swept well. I believe many times when we examine ourselves we just sweep the middle, we don’t go along the edges or to the dark corners. I pray this Advent as we anticipate the celebration of our King of Kings and Lord of Lords you will take time to sweep out the heart and focus upon the true King. Have a wonderful Christmas season and may you always remember the reason for the season is remembering the greatest gift ever given to us.
Pastor Terry Mayhew, United Methodist Church