On Tuesday I got to celebrate my 27th birthday. Are you someone who likes to celebrate your birthday in big fashion or would you prefer if nobody even knew it was your birthday and you could avoid the birthday song being sung to you while everyone stares at you awkwardly? I probably fall somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, I’m not sure there is anything worse than having a room full of people look at you while they sing “Happy Birthday” to you off key. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me this year! On the other hand, I also think it’s important to take every opportunity we get in life to celebrate the gift of living another day or another year.
Today is an historic day in our nation as we inaugurate our 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump. I know for some who are reading this, that is cause for celebration and hope. I know for others who are reading this, that is cause for concern and questions. There may even be some households where all of these feelings are represented under one roof.
Every year at St. Luke’s we celebrate a theme for the year. It gives us something to focus on and something to be intentional about. Last year, our theme was “The Kindness Project”. It’s not that I don’t try to be kind in other years, but having that as our theme just helped me stay accountable to performing acts of kindness every day. This year our theme is “Year of Gratitude”. I’m very excited about this year for a couple reasons.
Merry Christmas! Or better yet, Happy Epiphany! Did you know there are millions of people all over the world celebrating the birth of Jesus today? Epiphany is a special feast day in the Christian Church that takes place every year on January 6th. It’s always twelve days after Christmas (hence the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”). Epiphany officially ends the Christmas Season in the Church.
A new year is an exciting time. It brings with it a sense of hope and anticipation for all that lies ahead. We know that God offers us new beginnings each and every day, yet there is something special about turning the calendar over to a new year that reminds us of a new beginning that we all need from time to time.
Christmas Eve has always been one of my favorite days of the year. As a child, we had a tradition in our family that we got to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve after we got home from church. As you can imagine, the fact that I got to open presents the day before all my friends was certainly a highlight. But, as I grew older I began to appreciate Christmas Eve for a very different reason.
I found out last Sunday firsthand that life can bring you all kinds of surprises! If you weren’t in worship at St. Luke’s Edmond, I’ll fill you in briefly on what happened without boring you with the finer details. Almost every week at St. Luke’s Edmond we have the opportunity to see Dr. Bob Long’s sermon broadcast during both worship services. It is able to be transferred to us through the internet from our Downtown Campus. For almost three years now, we have never had a problem getting the sermon delivered.
During the season of Advent we often light candles on an Advent wreath at church as we count down the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. You may even have a wreath or something similar that you use at home with your family in preparation for Christmas. Each of these candles has a different theme that traditionally accompanies it. These themes are intended to help us as we prepare ourselves to receive the gift of God’s grace.
Every year there are several things I do to get in the Christmas spirit. I love reading our daily devotionals from the St. Luke’s staff. I love going to look at Christmas lights. I love decorating my home, putting the lights on the house, putting the tree up, and placing the nativity scene on the mantle. But, one of the things I must have every year to experience Christmas is Christmas carols and Christmas music.
It’s Black Friday so that means it’s time for the Christmas season, right?! Well, not exactly. At least not in the Church calendar. Historically, in the Church liturgical calendar, this Sunday begins the season of Advent. Advent is the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Each Sunday is marked by the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.