First Sunday in Advent - December 2nd
'Tis the season of peace on earth and goodwill toward all people. Chestnuts will roast, sleigh bells will ring and many (but by no means all) will revel in this, the most wonderful time of the year. Today, the first Sunday of Advent, marks the beginning of a season of celebration for believers who commemorate the first coming of Christ as a baby boy in a manger. In that all too familiar, but underappreciated passage, we are reminded that the birth of Jesus is the greatest gift of all for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. We will hustle and bustle to gather gifts for our loved ones, donate from our abundance to those in lack, and prepare great feasts in ritualistic tribute to God’s great gift.
Our opening readings remind us of the purpose and solemnity of God's gift. Sending Jesus into the world was certainly an act of benevolence but it was also a fulfillment of promise. Through Jesus, God would reconcile Himself with humankind. The just shoot of David was to be offered as a sacrifice for our sins. The baby in the manger was there not to be coddled and adored, though I am sure there was much of that, but rather to die for you and me. En route to becoming the sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus guided us through His teachings and by His example to the path of truth and right living.
In this season of Advent, let us endeavor to renew our commitment to follow Jesus, abounding in love for one another and for all. Let us conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects the example set by Him who lived a blameless life on earth. Let us enjoy the season but not let our hearts get drowsy in the revelry. And most importantly, let us think of ways that we can give of ourselves that create a more just world for when Christ comes to us again. That would be the greatest gift we can give this holiday season.