“This holy season is one where we, as people who seek to understand the true reason for the season, are called to prepare ourselves,” David Morris told those attending the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the steps of Enterprise City Hall Dec. 2. “This time in the church year is known as Advent. It is a season of preparation.”

Morris is senior pastor at Enterprise First United Methodist Church. He, Church With U Pastor Eric Bradley and Open Door Baptist Church Pastor John McCrummen shared the “reason for the season” for those attending the official lighting of the city Christmas Tree held Dec. 2 in front of city hall.

The evening began with the presentation of the colors by Scouts from Green Hill Presbyterian Church Boy Scout Troop 150 and the National Anthem sung by LaPonce Harrison.

The evening included Christmas music by the Hillcrest Elementary School Choir and Marge Simmons, and “Christmas Wishes” from Miss Enterprise Olivia Holland, Teen Miss Enterprise Ella Hogan, Junior Miss Enterprise Ashlee Owens, Petite Miss Enterprise Mary Kathryn Marshall, Little Miss Enterprise Emmy Kate Poss and Future Little Miss Enterprise Tenley Ann Bomhard.

The story of “The Southern Night Before Christmas” was read by the Co-Masters of Ceremonies Nick Brooks and Carmen Fuentes, from WTVY News. The grand finale was the official lighting of the Christmas Tree by Enterprise Mayor William Cooper, a visit by the Grinch who stole Christmas and the arrival of Santa Claus himself.

“I’m not very good at waiting or preparation,” Morris told the crowd attending the ceremony. “But waiting is a part of this season—and it’s not just waiting for no reason, it’s preparing, it’s getting ready for the light that is Jesus to come into our lives.”

Reading from the Bible book of Luke, Chapter 3, verses 1 through 6, Morris reminded the crowd that John the Baptist exemplified the importance of preparation during times of waiting. “He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” Morris said.  “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.  And all people will see God’s salvation.’

“This holy season is when we, as people who seek to understand the true reason for the season, are called to prepare ourselves,” Morris said. “This man John, who came in the wilderness, was a very rough looking man. He came dressed in camel hair and had a long beard.

“John the Baptist was known as a prophet who would preach out in the wilderness,” Morris said. “People wanted to hear what he had to say because he was preaching a message of hope, a message that the kingdom of God was drawing near.

“He was the beginning of the true reason that we are all here today, the beginning of Jesus’ ministry,” he added. “His Advent message was that we are meant to prepare ourselves for the coming of God in our lives.

“But this message was one that is difficult. It is one that is hard to comprehend easily. It’s one that’s hard to make manifest in your life because what John was calling people to do was change,” Morris explained. “Our greatest stories that we follow, especially during this time of year, are centered around change.”

The watershed moment in each of the traditional Yuletide tales is the moment when the central character realizes that the reason for the season is not worldly possessions. “It is the hope that’s found in something greater and that is the hope that is found in Jesus, this hope that brings us together that gives us the true knowledge that we don’t have to be the same people we’ve always been, that we can be something more. “We don’t have to stay stuck in a sinful life, a life that is hollow or meaningless but we can be the kind of people who live our lives for something greater,” Morris said. “John the Baptist was calling his people to prepare their hearts, prepare their lives for the coming of Jesus, telling them that Jesus was going to come, draw near to them and offer a new way of salvation and hope.

“During the Christmas season there is a reason in this season of Advent and that is because we’re trying to find a way to prepare our lives for the coming of Jesus into our world,” Morris said. “So the reason for this holiday season is truly the hope, the joy, the peace, the love that comes with understanding that God loves us so much that he sent His son—‘The Word made flesh’— God walking among us, loving us, teaching us, offering us hope, healing us, dying for us, rising again and giving us hope that lasts for all time.

“So this Christmas season, my prayer, as we get ready to light this tree, is that the light of Christ would be alive in each of us, that we would be ready to shine brightly and to know that with us and God, nothing is impossible,” Morris said. “And that if we seek to shine brightly for God, there is no darkness that can overcome the good and the hope and the mercy and love that we can do.”

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