God My Fortress
Is God a rock for you through Advent and the Christmas season?For my family, growing up in the Catholic Church, we celebrate Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas day. This meant having a green wreath with four coloured candles (three purple and one pink) and one white candle in the centre. We would go to Mass and light one candle each week leading up to Christmas day, and then light the final white candle on Christmas day itself. Until I started trying to understand more about my faith, looking into the meaning for why we do certain things, such as Advent wreaths, they were merely practiced traditions that came at certain times. Did you know that the word Christmas comes from "Cristes Maesse", an early English phrase that means "Mass of Christ"? Christmas itself brings us back to the cross, to Christ, and the Eucharist, the centre of importance in our faith. The Eucharist is our foundation, even within the word Christmas. God is our rock, even if we don't realize it.
Today's Reading states:'Be thou to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress. Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. For thou, O Lord, art my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon thee I have leaned from my birth; thou art he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of thee. With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come, I will praise thy righteousness, thine alone. O God, from my youth thou hast taught me, and I still proclaim thy wondrous deeds' (Psalms 71:3-6, 16-17).
Today's reading talks about how God is our rock, a fortress. If we look closer at our Advent wreath this season, we'll find greater meaning, God being even more present than we realize at first. Looking at the Advent wreath, it is to symbolize the light (Jesus) coming into the world, and the weeks of preparation leading up to this time through use of candles. The first candle is one symbolizing hope, the Prophet's candle. The second is for faith, Bethlehem's candle. The third is for joy, the Shepherd's Candle. The fourth is for peace, the Angel's candle. The last candle is lit on Christmas day, representing light and purity, Christ's candle. Each of these touch on important groups of people within the Old and beginning of the New Testament, and their hope for a Messiah. The greenery that holds the candles also has meaning, representing Everlasting life, and a good long Christian life in faith. The greenery is the foundation for the wreath, tying each of the important points of time and people through history together, helping us to remember important pieces of faith as one during the Christmas Season. Take some time to ask God to help you see Him at the centre in this season of celebration.
Today we pray:
Thank You for helping me be strong in every challenge I face. I pray that through Advent and the start of Christmas that I see You at the centre of it all. Help me to see Jesus as the reason for the season, and share this gift of love with those who lose focus.
I pray this in Your most holy name, Amen.