Dear Friends in Christ,
Last Saturday morning, Adrian and I went with our son and his girlfriend to cut our tree, and we spent the afternoon decorating it and reminiscing about our family traditions and the decorations as we hung them. The lights on the tree are now shining brightly and will add to the atmosphere of this festive season. And last Sunday, you all hung the church decorations up too, and sanctuary looks so beautiful.
In the upcoming weeks we will be lighting the candles of hope, peace, joy and love on our advent wreath, culminating on Christmas Eve with all the candles being lit, and we will end our service that evening by singing Silent Night by candlelight. It is always so beautiful and from up on the chancel, you all look so angelic. A few years ago, I was at a Christmas Eve service, where we took our lighted candles outside to sing. Have you ever tried to walk outside with a candle? I had two problems: first, I walked too fast and the candle blew out, and then after I lit it again, there was a gust of wind which also blew my candle out!!
For a candle to light our way, we must slow down, or it will sputter and go out leaving us stumbling in the darkness with no sense of direction. For our candle to stay lit, we need a cradled hand to protect it from the wind that wants to blow it out. When our candle does go out, we need others around us to relight our candle with theirs. Advent is like this too; for us to follow the star light to Bethlehem and to embrace and see the sacred beauty all around us, we need to slow down, we need to protect our time from that which distracts us, and we need others to journey with us. This Advent, may we travel slowly and deliberately together in prayerful anticipation of the Light of the World being born in each of us.
The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… .What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. … So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.
What do you want for Christmas? I know I have a spiritual longing to experience something holy and beautiful. My prayer is that we can all experience Christ’s presence with us this Christmas.
Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!
— Pastor Joan
 Jan L. Richardson, Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas (Orlando: Wanton Gospeller Press, 1998).