Happy Advent!  This is the time of year when we get ready for the birth of our Lord Jesus, figuratively.  It is a wonderful time of the year.  Praise the Lord!  I need to thank you for the Pastor Appreciation gifts I received from the church and fellow members of FPC.  Though underserved, I do appreciate your love and generosity.  Thank You.

While most of us read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth, I like to read “Barrington Bunny” by Martin Bell and “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen.  The Barrington Bunny story is a classic Christmas/Easter fable.  It's a story of a bunny who gets lost in the forest on Christmas Eve.  He is all alone and has no family to spend Christmas Eve with during that cold winter night.  Barrington then meets a mysterious silver wolf who teaches him the true meaning of Christmas (“A gift, a free gift, no strings attached”).  It's not what you expect.

The "Little Match Girl" tells that on a freezing New Year's Eve a poor young girl, shivering and barefoot, tries to sell matches in the street.  Afraid to go home because her father will beat her for failing to sell any matches, she huddles in the alley between two houses and lights matches, one by one, to warm herself.  In the flame of the matches she sees a series of comforting visions: the warm iron stove, the lovely roast goose, the great glorious Christmas tree.  Each vision disappears as its match burns out.  In the sky she sees a shooting star, which her late grandmother had told her means someone is on their way to Heaven.  In the flame of the next match she sees her grandmother, the only person who ever treated her with love and kindness.  To keep the vision of her grandmother alive as long as possible, the girl lights the entire bundle of matches.  When the matches are gone the girl freezes to death, and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven.  The next morning, passers-by find the girl's body with a smile on her face, and express pity.  They do not know about the wonderful visions she had seen, or how happy she is with her grandmother in Heaven.

These stories remind me that Christmas is the time when The Glory of God manifested Himself as fully human and that Christmas is more than Santa, fun times, and material things.  Have a great holiday season and Merry Christmas.

Pastor Pete