Opening Question: How many people do you know that are worried about Christmas? Why are they worried?
First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
Jose's parents talked in whispers that night. Both looked worried. Things were tense. Jose could only see the check book on the table. Jose could only assume his parents were talking about bills. And about Christmas presents.
Jose went to sleep that night. But he kept waking up. He had nightmares about a cold Christmas. No lights, no tree, no presents. Jose was very upset.
Then Jose said a little prayer. "God, help my parents. Let's have a good Christmas." With that, Jose rolled over and went to sleep.
Jose had the most wonderful dream. He dreamt a voice invited him into a house filled with light. "Come in," the voice beaconed. When Jose went into the front door, he realized he had just stepped into his own house. "Come in," the voice repeated. Jose followed the light to the Christmas tree. Under the tree, Jose saw the source of the light. It came from a mange that held the baby Jesus. As he approached the manger, he could see the baby Jesus smile at him. Jose felt a sense of peace and joy. Everything was going to be alright.
Suddenly, his alarm clock went off. Jose jumped out of bed, put on his clothes, and ran down stairs into the kitchen. Jose hugged his mother and father. And, smiling, sat down for breakfast. His parents looked puzzled. Jose had never done that before.
"I love you," Jose said. "Everything is going to be alright."
Jose saw that, with God, everything was going to be alright. That's what God promised people through Jeremiah. That's what he gave us in Jesus.
Bridging Question: How anxious are your for Christmas to come?
Gospel: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Jesus said to his followers:
There will be signs of God's will across the sky. The roaring of the oceans and the crashing of the waves will frustrate the nations on earth. In the mean time, people will grow weak in the face of what will happen to the world. For God will shake up everything in the heavens. Then, everyone will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with a lot of power and flash. When these things happen, stand up tall and raise your heads proudly because, then, God will free you!
Watch yourselves so your minds may not be fogged by fooling around, parties, or daily worries. Watch yourselves so the day when the Son of Man comes might not suddenly catch you, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone, everywhere, in the same way. Be constantly alert! Always ask God to give you the strength to live through those bad times and, in the end, to stand as a true follower before the Son of Man.
Sarah watched as her dad put up the Christmas lights on Sunday. He brought the lights down from the attic, went to the garage to test the lights, and went to the store to buy new lights and cords. Finally, he was ready to hang the lights. The ladder was up, the lights were arranged, and her dad hung the first light.
But it was late in the afternoon. Since winter days did not have that much daylight, Sarah's dad felt pressure to hang the lights before the sunset. His temper was running a little short.
"Dad, why are you taking so long to hang the lights?" Sarah asked at the foot of the ladder.
Sarah's dad turn his head and looked down as he stood on the ladder. His hand was on the next light. "What?" her dad grumbled as he turned his focus from the lights to Sarah.
"Why are you taking so long to hang the lights?" Sarah asked in a slightly frustrated tone. "I want to see the lights!"
Sarah's dad climbed down the ladder, moved the ladder to where he would hang the next light. He was trying to keep calm, but the look on his face was not happy. "Sarah," he said, "I'm trying my best. This takes time. Why don't you go inside, and I will tell you when I'm done. Then, we'll look at the pretty lights together." Sarah's dad didn't even wait for Sarah to answer. He turned and climbed the ladder again to hang the next light.
Sarah, however, didn't move. "Dad, why are you trying to get rid of me?" Sarah asked.
Her dad's face turned red with anger. Before he could yell at her, Sarah's mom came out to see the progress on the lights. Sarah's father turned his head. "Honey, could you take Sarah inside," her father said to his wife. "She's becoming a pest."
"Why are you so anxious?" Sarah's mom said to her dad.
"I'm getting frustrated," her dad replied. "I have only so much time to hang these lights tonight. The sun will set soon!"
"I don't want to go inside!" Sarah protested. "I want to see the light go up! I want to see the lights go on! Hurry, Dad, hurry!"
Sarah's dad was anxious. He was fighting against time, trying to get the lights up. The more Sarah bothered him, the less hope he had that the lights would get up. He was beginning to hate this part of the Christmas preparation. He didn't look forward to hanging the lights.
Sarah, however, was full of hope. She looked forward to see the lights on. The lights were the first real sign Christmas was coming.
Sarah anticipated the lights. Sarah's dad was anxious about the lights. Jesus talked about anticipation and anxiety. When he comes, some people will have great anxieties; they'll worry what will happen next. But, Christians will anticipate his coming; they look forward to the coming of their Savior. Some people will drupe in fear, while Christians will stand tall.
How can we look forward to the coming of Jesus? First, live a good life. Second, pray for strength so you can anticipate his coming. Then you can have hope, like Sarah. And you will not get frustrated, like her dad.
Sarah's dad was able to hang all the lights before sunset. And Sarah's heart flew high when saw the lights glow that evening. Even Sarah's dad smiled and looked forward to the coming of Jesus at Christmas.
Closing Question: What things help you look forward to the coming of Jesus at Christmas?