Advent and Christmas are nearly upon us as I write this article. As I was told when I was many years younger, “Each year will seem to go by faster and faster.” This has been a quick year, it seems like just a few weeks ago we were looking forward to spring and summer and now winter is upon us. What do you look forward to in De-cember? The Christmas Carols we will sing and hear played on the radio? Snow, family gatherings or all of the beautiful decorations we see during the Christmas sea-son? For me it is a lot of different things. The songs and the decorations of course, I always look forward to seeing family and friends that I may not see as often as I would like. Laverne and I have hosted my family Christmas for a number of years but this year we will gather at my sister’s home in Galesville and a week and a half after Christmas we will host Laverne’s family. Seeing all of the kids get excited when they open their presents, and the parents laughing as we recount family stories from the past are sure ways to bring joy to my heart. As we gather we will often sing a few Christmas Carols and share some traditional foods, each year Laverne and her daughter have made Banket, a Dutch made with almond paste. What I tell people is the bad thing about Banket is Laverne only makes it once a year and the good this about Banket is Laverne only makes it once a year. Like many other people I enjoy being in Church singing the Christmas Carols. Christian liturgical tradition says that we only should sing Christmas Carols beginning on Christmas Eve and continuing through Epiphany, but I, like most people think we need to sing and enjoy them for more than two weeks. We will begin singing Christmas Carols the first Sunday of Advent and sing them into January. There are just too many wonderful Carols to stuff into Christmas Eve and a couple of Sundays. We will also sing a few Advent Carols, such as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” but we will also sing carols like “Silent Night, “ “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” and many others as well. Over the years I have learned a few new to me but very old Carols that I have grown to love like, “In The Bleak Midwinter, and “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming.” These Carols help tell the Christmas story in song just like the others and they add the prophecies of his coming and his return that we still look forward to. As we move into the Holidays (Holy Days) I hope to see all of you as we sing about the God who came to earth as a baby, remembering that he came for a reason, to become the One Perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. For without that part of Jesus’ story there would have been no reason to write the carols. There would be no reason for us to give gifts in remembrance of Jesus being the first Christmas gift. But because he came we have hope for eternity as well as the peace that comes from living in the wonderful forgiveness that only Jesus can provide. Have a blessed Advent and Christmas as we celebrate that God has become man so that we can become the children of God.
A VIEW FROM THE HILL by Rev. Ethan Larson