Despite the fact that we spent all day Friday and half of Saturday Christmas shopping, I was completely unprepared to walk into church Sunday morning and see the Advent wreath. As we lit the first candle, I felt a whiplash of confusion. How could it be the first Sunday of Advent already? I should have known it was coming. I had plenty of clues. As a church secretary, I spent the first half of the week preparing a worship guide with a cover that prominently displays a single lit candle. Thanksgiving had come and gone. Christmas music was playing everywhere. Christmas is coming fast and I’m not ready. Then I realized that Advent is the time of preparation – four whole weeks to prepare for the coming of the King. Advent is a time of preparation – a time to ready myself for the coming of the Christ child. Yes Christmas is coming, but Advent gives me the time and focus I need to prepare for the celebration.
Traditionally, the lighting of the first candle symbolized hope, the hope that is ours in Christ, the hope that is Christ. Hope, not in the water-downed sense of the word where it mean nothing more than a wish, but hope in the sense of knowing that the God of the Universe came to earth as a human child for the purpose of expressing his indescribable love for me to me. I heard a missionary in church today say that a man he once encountered from an unreached tribe in Africa told him that “his god speaks his language” and that’s exactly what Jesus did – he came to us as a man to communicate with us and show his love for us in our humanness. My hope in Jesus is assured by his love, his power, and his desire to be in relationship with me.
This week will be about hope for me. Where do you think I’ll find it? And where will I find myself being the bearer of hope? Christ is coming! Happy first week of Advent everyone!
About the pictures:
Racoon State Park (October 2010)