December 1. This is the day that many begin to open "advent calendars". This is a big tradition in Sweden and is done in a variety of ways. Many children will open a window or a pocket and find a toy or some chocolate inside. In this house, we will light our daily advent candle and watch it burn down to day 24 as we await the celebration of the day that Christ was born. Our candle this year is special. My friend Marie gave it to me as she began this tradition when she lived in Copenhagen. Each year she obtains this Royal Copenhagen candle to mark the days of advent. Now I can think of her lighting the same candle when I light mine on a daily basis.
I love rituals like these. I think they are a great way to mark time, to teach tradition, to build excitement and anticipation. I hope that many of you who are practicing this tradition in some form take time to not only enjoy the hidden treasure that you find waiting behind the window, but to also consider one thing that Christ brings to your life on a daily basis. Today I am thankful for the comfort that Christ brings to our lives. Two friends in the past week have lost loved ones under difficult and unexpected circumstances. One a husband of a girlfriend who was mysteriously ill and died during exploratory surgery, the other a brother and uncle of friends we've known for many years here in Sweden. Sadly, he was suffering from many things and ended his own life. These situations remind me that life is fragile and valuable and can change in an instant. I know that Christ's love for us endures all sorts of hardship and while we cannot make sense of these tragedies this side of heaven, we can rest assured that Christ feels our pain and joins us in our grief journey. That truth, that Christ comes and dwells among us, is one of life's greatest comforts. I treasure the comfort of Christ as I consider the pain my friends are enduring as they face their losses.
As you mark the days of December with an advent calendar or through the lighting of a candle, why not also mark the remarkable ways that Christ comes to you on a daily basis?