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It seems like the time between Thanksgiving and the end of the year can become a whirlwind of holiday parties, school programs, year-end deadlines, and before you know it…it’s Christmas. However, this season of Advent is really about a special journey, preparation and celebration of our faith which we commonly know more today as Christmas. Advent (Latin translation for “coming”) is the beginning of the Western liturgical year practiced by many but specifically in the Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist Churches. One catechism describes Advent as, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming… the Church unites herself to his desire: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.” The Advent season can remind us to shift our focus from self (the needs and desires of our humanity) to Jesus so we can receive him more fully, the true gift of Christmas.

Each week of advent, we can prepare our hearts by reflecting upon the four virtues that only Jesus, through his birth, has brought us: Hope, Love, Joy, Peace. It is hard to imagine what life would be like without these gifts from God. As I reflect upon these words, I ask you the same questions I have considered myself.

What would life be like without hope? How would suffering be bearable? My eight-year-old son, Brody, simply shared how sad life would be without the ability to look forward to something.

What would life be like without love? Not only would life become lonely with no one to share it with but consider our physical mortality and ability to heal. For it is love that we even live. Love is in our DNA, we were wired for love from the start. Why do we fight it?

Joy. Only a loving Father would promise to bless His children with abundant joy. We can be so human sometimes and focus first, on our pain, our trials, tests, and crosses of this life that we forget to discover the joy in the midst of our suffering. Joy is found in the presence of Christ. Rest and holy pause can easily be overlooked.

When I think of the word Peace, my mind repeats “let my peace be with you” and “let my peace be the umpire of your soul”. For the peace of the Lord is what truly guides, does not confuse or complicate, but instead when walking close with God, we can be led on the path of His will.

I pray you also find time to reflect on these four virtues of Christ this advent season. How must you (the flesh) decrease so Jesus (Hope, Love, Joy, Peace) can increase and fulfill his promise of abundant life in your life today?

May God Bless You