Dear Family,

Do you remember what it was like as a child waiting for Dec 25th to come so you could open gifts? For me, an ADHD kid whose only self-control was the kind that strict parents imposed, it was a painful month. I imagine the only people the Christmas Season was more disheartening for were my parents. It must have been horrible for them to have me bouncing off the walls in anticipation.

The pressure got so intense that my parents started the tradition of allowing us to open one gift on Christmas Eve. This release of pressure did not do enough, and it eventually led to opening all of our gifts on Christmas Eve so my poor, exhausted parents would not wake up at 4 am to open gifts and could sleep in on Christmas morning.

It is mind-blowing to think that today is Thanksgiving, and we are about to enter Advent. Advent is a word that means “arrival.” Advent is the four weeks leading to Christmas. The official dates this year are Dec 3rd – 24th. This year, Vine & Branch will begin our season this Sunday.

One word always stands out to me is Emanual, meaning “God with us.” This idea that the creator of the universe is with me is incredible. I have always wanted a friend to be with me in good and bad times. We all want that, and society has the term BFF (best friends forever). This idea of a BFF is what Emanual means. God is always with us. When we are hurt, He is with us. When we get married, He is with us. When our kids are born, He is with us. When life falls apart, He is with us.

My theme for this year’s Advent season is “He was with them.” We are so fortunate that we can pick up the bible and read all the things that those who went before us went through, and we can see that God was with them. Maybe this year, we can also see that God is with us no matter how difficult things are going in our lives.

I pray Shalom over your household this morning; this peace will produce a calm, relaxing time with whoever is in your home today. I pray it would bring many opportunities like laughter, memories, healing, and even reconciliation to any home suffering from division. See you Sunday at 9:30 as we open the Word and witness another baptism.

In Him,
Pastor Chris