For many of us, the holiday season is a time of stress. It’s as if we’re in a constant state of preparation: preparing our homes for guests, preparing extravagant meals, preparing to travel and preparing gifts for loved ones. We get so caught up in this juggling act, we lose sight of what we are actually preparing for: the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today begins the advent season. It’s a time for preparation of a different kind. A time to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus. One of the ways we prepare and reflect is by lighting a candle on the Advent wreath each Sunday. The candles carry different meanings, and today, the first day of advent, our candle symbolizes hope.

I want you to close your eyes and take a moment to reflect on what it is you are hopeful for in your life. If your relationships with friends and family aren’t as strong as they could be, there is hope for improvement.  If you or someone close to you is suffering from poor health, there is hope for recovery. If your financial situation has become overwhelming, there is hope for stability.

These worries can weigh heavy on our shoulders, especially at this time of year. It’s important we not lose hope. It’s important we not lose faith in our Lord. He loves us and is watching over us. We must remember the gift we celebrate on Christmas: the birth of God’s only Son.

My hope this time of year is for the children of Mercy Home. I hope they experience the true joy of the Christmas season. I hope the wounds of their past are healed. I hope they find success and peace in their lives that lasts long after they’ve left our care.

As the advent season moves forward, I hope you will continue to pause and reflect amidst the chaos of your other preparations. Remember to cherish this time with your loved ones. The time you spend with them is more important than the perfect gift. Continue to prepare for the coming of our Lord. Remember the meanings of the candles we light each Sunday: hope, peace, joy and love. Keep these sentiments close to your heart.

May the lord bless you and your loved ones with joy and happiness this Christmas season.

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