by: Rich Vaughan
Those who are a fan of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy will recognize these words. They were uttered by King Theoden just before the “Battle of Helm’s Deep” in the second movie of the series, “The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers”. He says these words as the battle begins.
Why am I sharing that phrase from a popular movie to begin my Rich’s Rittings today? Well, Advent has started and “so it begins”. What begins? The battle between the spiritual and the material. The struggle between becoming exhausted from decorating, shopping, etc. to finding the spiritual peace and joy of the Christmas story found in Matthew and Luke. Which brings me to the word Advent that the church uses this time of year. “Advent” is a Latin word (Thank you Mrs. Cunningham – my high school Latin teacher! Loved her!). It means, “The Coming” and in the Christian church Advent refers both to celebrating Jesus birth (Christmas), and His eventual return. It is supposed to be a time of spiritual reflection, as well as cheer and anticipation. Even as our world has allowed the Christmas season to grow more secular Advent is our call to remember the real reason for the season – Jesus.
It is not easy. And let me be clear here: I love Christmas decorations and trees. I love Christmas music, both secular and sacred. I love Santa Claus and his reindeer! I love presents under the tree, although I really enjoy giving much more than receiving now. And yes, I love most of the Hallmark Christmas movies and the oldie but goodie Christmas cartoons. In short, I love this time of year. But I also recognize the danger of how easy it is to lose Jesus during this season. To help me stay focused as a Christian and a pastor I read and reread the Christmas story found in Luke 2:1-20. I ponder it and I just absorb it into my soul. I of course teach an Advent study which helps me stay focused on Jesus as well. I will play Christmas music, especially religious Christmas songs.
So, Advent is here. Christmas is 26 days always. This year has not been a nice one. You and I should realize that the world does not need an only material Christmas; it desperately needs a Jesus Christmas. The battle is before us as Christians, and for the church (you and I). “SO IT BEGINS”….