This past Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas when we spend time considering the meaning of the birth of Christ in our world. Speaking of this event, the prophet Isaiah wrote: "Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')." (Isaiah 7:14)
I love that the name 'God is with us' is used. In our world, we deal with many challenges and difficulties, large and small. From personal struggles to global problems like terrorism and refugee crises. I am grateful that God is with us in the midst of these problems.
This year, my church is considering the idea that God has invited us to a gift exchange.
When you are going to visit family or friends for Christmas, you try to make sure that you bring something that will make them happy. It would be terrible to receive a great gift and have something underwhelming to give in return.
Yet, in the original meaning and concept of Christmas, we find ourselves in exactly that situation.