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Christmas in July

Many years ago, I took piano lesson from Jane (Reidl) Hefley. In July, she would stop working on "lesson music" and have her students get out our Christmas music books for "Christmas in July". Her theory was that December was such a busy time and that we really did not get to enjoy playing Christmas music, that we would enjoy it much more in July. This was true, especially for the younger students, I was okay with this, but I didn't really enjoy it.

July is six months past Christmas and six months until Christmas. It is also in the middle of summer. July is a slower paced month than December. Other than the fourth of July, not much else is going on.

Since Christmas in July does not include presents, decorating trees and sending cards, maybe we can celebrate (observe) the Advent season in July also. Advent means 'coming' or 'arrival.' Even in July, we can still celebrate Christ's coming into the world and watch with expectant hope for his coming again. (Presbyterian Mission Agency. “Advent | The Christian Year.” Accessed November 17, 2022.).

The first Sunday of Advent in July is Hope. July is hot, that's just the way it is in Oklahoma. Often, a cool front will push through and cool the temperatures off, possibly with some rain. That gives us hope that the weather will cool off at some point. School supplies start showing up with supplies lists in July which gives hope to the parents/caregivers that there is light at the end of the tunnel called summer break. Maybe after seeing far away family, taking your college student to their college, or moving your newlywed child into their new home, you can hope for the best for your family. You can be assured by remembering Psalm 122:6, "May they prosper who love you."

The second Sunday of Advent in July is Peace. Now that Independence Day and the popping of fireworks has passed, the daily pace usually slows down once again. We can now hear the cicadas, lawn mowers and A/C units again. These are peaceful sounds of summer. This brings to mind my favorite benediction from Numbers 6: 25-26 that brings me peace at any time of the year: "The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

The third Sunday of Advent in July is Joy. There are many things that can bring joy in July. For me, hearing a rumble of thunder hopefully means rain for my thirsty flowers, watching fireworks, fireflies and star gazing at night and pictures of my sweet grandkids playing in the water. The words from the first, and third verse in the carol "Joy to the World" could be sung today: "Let heaven and nature sing" and "while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy." Also, Psalm 118:9, which became a focus point of Children's Worship, reaffirms the joy in July: "O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."

The fourth Sunday of Advent in July is Love. This is my favorite week in Advent but how can the fourth week of July be about love? With no Christmas rush, we have the chance to enjoy visiting and having family visit us. Without Joanna Gains' Christmas expectations taunting us, we can relax and just enjoy everyone's company.

On our first Sunday of Advent in July, we have hope that the weather will start to cool off soon and maybe it will rain. On our second Sunday of Advent in July, our peace will continue in the sounds of summer. Joy will continue on our third Sunday of Advent in July with blooming flowers, butterflies, and fireflies. On our fourth Sunday of Advent in July, we can still relax and enjoy our time together before Christmas decorations start appearing on store shelves in September. There's a two-day week at the end of July this year, so I am lumping those last two days into one "Christmas Day". Even though it is really not Christmas, we can still read the words of Luke 2:13-14 (as recited by Linus of "Charley Brown Christmas" fame): "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."



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