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.
Peeking out from the edges of Halloween decorations, preparing to pounce, are Christmas decorations! We still have Thanksgiving to celebrate and Black Friday to survive and Advent to enjoy, but preparing ourselves is a holy task. Preparing for God entering the world is indeed holy. You've maybe heard hints of Advent, our preparation season, if you belong to the choir or worship team. You've certainly heard the Christian Ed team asking for you to share your stories and memories (please go do that now!) and begun to think of annual favorite traditions and gatherings, preparing your home and maybe a shopping list? Checking it once or checking it twice?
If you're anything like me, you love to give gifts and you have your eyes open all year for good ones, saving online links and coupons, hopping on sales and squirreling things away all year. Or, maybe you're not and you freeze in fear and worry and wonder how you'll ever find anything meaningful or in the right sizes or age appropriate or well-loved. Why bring it up now? Couldn't I have waited till after Halloween for that stress?!
No. I don't want you to be stressed. I hope that you'll see your advent season as one for blessing and not stressing. If Christ's coming was to save and not condemn, the coming of Christmas is for goodness and not frustration and worry. And gift giving can indeed be a blessing when done thoughtfully and in that spirit of love and grace and compassion. Before you begin making your lists, let JCPC and the Mission Team help. This year, we will once again be providing an Alternative Christmas Market. We know many said last year... I wish I'd known about this sooner! Now you do.
The gifts available at this event in the weeks leading up to Christmas (end of November through Christmas in the Welcome Center) will be of a spiritual nature. All of the organizations represented are agencies we support as a church and trust to care for the least of these throughout the year. Choose from many different price points a gift of a donation in honor of a loved one and receive a Christmas card to send them with a message explaining your gift. Give the gift of feeding a family at Hands of Christ or providing bed linens to a family receiving their first home from one of our youth build teams. Feeding or housing a family in the season of welcoming the holy family is truly the greatest gift you can give. I hope you'll join us.