Ruth Sellnow, Rock River Circuit

"The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Matthew 4:16 NIV

The religious days of Advent, a prelude to Christmas, arrive during the darkest days of the year in the northern hemisphere. On December 21 we mark the winter solstice. On that day the daytime hours are at a minimum and the nighttime ones are at a maximum. We know that we will have a few extra minutes of daylight after that date. Early church fathers set December 25th as the date to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the light of the world. How fitting to see the return of more light to earth by celebrating the true light of our Lord Jesus.

Our scripture passage is a quote from the prophecy of Isaiah. This was the beginning of the ministry of our Lord Jesus, following his temptation by the devil. The theme for the 2005 LWMS convention in Minnesota was "All Seasons with Jesus". We learned that Jesus is the light of the world at any season of the year, and perhaps we appreciate this light even more in the darkest days of winter. We can relive the warm days of June and the things we learned at our convention. Meeting the missionaries, attending the workshops to increase our spiritual growth, hearing inspiring sermons and singing hymns together all helped us feel united to serve Jesus. We left that convention encouraged; we want to bring the message of his unending love to the world.

Advent is a season with the emphasis of getting ready for the second coming of Jesus even as we prepare to celebrate his birth in Bethlehem. When we help our children get ready for Christmas services and when we decorate our homes and bake special treats for our family, we are reminded to get our hearts ready for Jesus. As sinners we are lost without the gift of faith in Jesus we receive every day. Every candle, every Christmas light is a reminder that Jesus lights up our world and life in every season.

Our Lord Jesus is a light that is constant as he testifies: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
(John 8:12).

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today. Amen.