Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
SYMBOLS OF THE SEASON – EVERGREEN TREE
The evergreen tree is a popular symbol of Christmas both inside and outside the church. The evergreen tree is rich and diverse in symbolism. The evergreen is a symbol of the eternal life of God and the continual renewal he brings to us. To some the tree represents the cross, with branches stretching from the middle and the top pointing to the heavens. The decorations and lights on the evergreen symbolize the celebration of the long-anticipated coming of the chosen one of God, Jesus. Whatever symbolic meaning you choose to embrace, allow it to be a connection to your preparation for the coming of the Light of the World. 1
Light the Advent Candles Gospel Reading: Matt. 23:27-39
LOVE IS PATIENT
The gospel reading today continues on with Jesus’ words to the religious leaders of his day. His words are saying “woe to you,” meaning it is them who are missing out, them who are to be pitied because they have been so arrogant and blind that they are missing what God is trying to do with them and for them. But the amazing thing in this passage is not the words Jesus uses, but the meaning behind it all. While he is saying “woe to you,” we begin to see that he is not just angry or frusterated with them, Jesus is also lamenting the fact that they will not accept the God who so desperately loves them.
God’s people, Israel, throughout history had gone through these cycles of serving God, and walking away from God — of loving God, and abandoning him for other false gods. And the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were no different, though they thought they were. The conversation Jesus is having with them here doesn’t just mention how messed up these leaders are — it also tells of God’s patient pursuit of the people He loves. Though Israel continually turned away from God, He has so often “longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but [they] were not willing” (v. 37).
Aren’t you glad God is more patient than us? He longs to gather us under his wings. If you’ve been living like a white-washed tomb, all cleaned and perfect on the outside, but dead and rotting inside, it’s not too late; God still wants to turn you into something living and beautiful. Will you let Him finally bring you close to Him?
Soon I shall see you as you are, the Light that came to me; I’ll behold the brightness of your face, throughout eternity.7
1)Adapted from Paul Sheneman, Illuminate: an Advent Experience. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill of Kansas City, 2011. Print.
7)Adapted from Judson W. Van DeVenter, “I Wandered in the Shades of Night” (1897), Cyber Hymnal, http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/w/iwanderd.htm.