Dear Fellow Saints,

The end of our Advent journey is near. If I was driving to visit relatives in Michigan, I’d be turning onto SR-52. I’d see the sign, “Manchester 5 miles.” Almost to my cousin’s house and the warm embraces. I’ve passed many signs – turnpikes, construction zones, exits, and the Michigan state line. Almost there. But I’ve got a couple miles to go.

The end of our Advent journey is in sight. We’ve passed mileposts along the way – Hope, Peace, and Joy. Today we light the final candle, the “Love Candle.” Many of us are getting excited as we see the circle of light growing. In truth, it might be because with each new candle, Christmas Day celebrations are that much closer. 

However, this excitement may have diverted our attention from Christmas’ deeper meaning. It is good to be excited about the gifts we’ll receive Christmas Day. But think also about the many gifts we receive throughout the year. These gifts are signs of love from those around us. 

The toys, clothes, gift cards, noodlecraft art, and homemade fruitcake express love from others. But they don’t compare to the ultimate love we celebrate on Christmas. The baby Jesus wrapped in His Bethlehem manger is the ultimate expression of our Father’s love for us. However, like any gift – if it isn’t unwrapped, it doesn’t fulfill its purpose. It’s worthless. Jesus unwrapped and used Himself for us. Jesus was born to die on the Cross for our sins – and then rise to new life on Easter – so we could receive forgiveness of sin and eternal life. This is the ultimate gift of love anyone can receive.

We thank God by sharing this and all the gifts He’s given us with others – showing His love to the world. It is through us that God gives His love to others.

I pray you find time in these last days of Advent to remember the gift of God’s love we’ve already received and to thank Him for the hope, peace, joy, and love we have through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

                                                                                        Merry Christmas,

                                                                                        Pastor Jim