Happy (church) new year
December 5, 2011
by Rev. Bill Hillyer, Saving Grace Lutheran Church, Delano

The Christian church celebrated its new year Nov. 27.

The beginning of the Christian calendar starts off with the observance of Advent. These are the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and the coming of the newborn king. Advent means “to come” or “coming.” And in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Christians take time out of this busy season to prepare themselves for the coming of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

With the arrival of the season of Advent, the church once again begins to tell the amazing story of the Gospel. This is the very first thing the world needs to know, that God does not wait for them to come to Him. In fact, He starts the whole process by coming to mankind, by sending His Son in the form of a baby, whether people are ready or not!

The reason the church retells the story every year is that there is always someone new who needs to hear it, or be reminded of the most amazing story in history. And let’s face reality; this once “Christian” nation has been taken over by the secular. One does not have to look very hard to see that.

Because secular companies and schools have little, to no regard to the ancient Christian calendar, if we’re not careful, we, too, can begin to revolve our lives around the world’s schedule. That makes it very difficult to have any time left for the real reason for the season.

The governor of New Hampshire, Lincoln Chafee is an example of how the world no longer knows the story of Christmas, or even what the holiday is all about. He said he will no longer call the tree being decorated for the state a Christmas tree; instead, he will call it a “holiday tree.” He claims his position is in keeping with Rhode Island’s founding as a haven for religious tolerance, where government and religion were separate.

Chafee wants to honor all religions. Yet, by doing this, he dishonors Christianity and the actual holiday that celebrates Christ’s birth, Christmas! Trees are not put up to celebrate Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day, they are put up to celebrate Christmas.

Even though the world no longer has time for Christmas, Christians need to slow down and remember what all the fuss of the season is about. The blog, Classical Christianity says it this way; “There is something very unique and glorious about being a Christian that sets us apart from the rest of the world, the rest of society. We have come to know that the living Christ of our world has sacrificed His entire life for us, dying on a cross, rising from the dead, and changing the very situation of death and eternity for those who worship him!”

And that is why the church celebrates the season of Advent. We celebrate Advent so that in all the hustle and bustle of the season, we do not lose the goal and focus of the season – the coming Savior of the world.

So, slow down a little bit this Advent season to remember why you are flying around looking for gifts like someone on a sled. Slow down and remember who this season is all about! And as you do, take the time to go to church and worship the newborn king, Jesus Christ.