From this week we begin our Advent sermon series with Adam Hamilton’s book, Not A Silent Night. We will be invited to develop a picture of what the first Christmas would have been like for the young mother who never expected this kind of huge surprise in her life. Definitely there was joy but I’m sure it was mixed with pain, sorrow, and uncertainty. And that is similar to our own lives, intermingled with pain and blessings. So, this year we’ll be preparing our hearts for Christmas by looking at Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. Interestingly this book begins with Jesus’ death, not with Jesus’ birth, so we are going to read the stories backwards. Each week we will consider what Jesus’ birth means to us by looking at Jesus life, death, and resurrection. Today, we’re going to take a look at the end of Mary’s life first. Then, next Sunday, we’ll look at her when Jesus was crucified. Then, the next week, we will look at when she found Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem as a boy, and finally, the week before Christmas, we’ll see her when she gives birth to Jesus. So, I hope we can see that Christmas is not just a one time event, but all these stages in her life were linked. I hope it helps us to see Christmas more than just what happened that one silent night.
How do you start preparing for Christmas? For my family, whether we can travel for friends gatherings or not, one thing that we always do on Thanksgiving Day is decorating our Christmas tree. For my family, this year we decorated the house, cooked a turkey for the first time and watched a holiday movie. So, like many others, this year’s Thanksgiving day was more beginning to prepare for Christmas as well as celebrating Thanksgiving itself. And this morning we are here to remember Advent is a four-week period when Christians pause and say, “Let’s remember what this is all about. Let’s remember who the child is, born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Let’s remember the hope and promise that come from him. Let’s remember who he called us to be and what he called us to do. Let’s remember the mission he gave us as we seek to live as Christ-followers.” Advent is a time when we prepare ourselves spiritually to celebrate the birth of the Savior. And we are not only preparing to celebrate Christ’s first coming during Advent, his birth in Bethlehem but also to prepare for the day when Christ will return in glory to bring a new heaven and earth.