Advent: this season is before all else about hope. Before waiting or joy or preparing this season is about hope. Hope because we walk in the light that broke the darkness at that first Christmas. Hope because that light has continued to shine no matter what. Hope because it leads us to a future where hope will completely embrace us with faith and love forever.
In an Advent reflection Mary Marrocco (Canadian Theologian) says: “Advent asks us to look forward (to the end of time), back (to the Bethlehem journey) and within (to our hearts) and discover in all three one thing: God is with us. Emmanuel.”
This is our hope in this season of Advent that we journey with God with us. We journey forward rooted in the concrete hope that we will be embraced with God when we breathe our final breath because God is love. We journey with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and the hope that carried them forward in their ‘yes’. We journey to our core to discover our truth, the flame that is never extinguished, and the hope that lives within us. All three of these journeys (realistically this one journey) are because of hope. In times of darkness, in times of distress, in times of uncertainty, in times of suffering, in times of unparalleled greed and destruction we journey in hope. Why? Because Advent hope is centered in love, a love so great yet made known to us and offered to us, a love that encourages us when we doubt, a love that encircles us with lasting hope and says, “stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21.28). Stand up and raise your heads because we are loved, we are valued, we are bearers of Christ, we are created good, we are people of hope.
A few years ago The Voice winner Jordan Smith released a song called “Stand in the Light.” The refrain states:
This is who I am inside
This is who I am, I’m not going to hide
‘Cause the greatest risk we’ll ever take is by far
To stand in the light and be seen as we are
To stand in the light and be seen as we are.
Advent is a season of hope that calls us to be honest with who we are and to “stand in the light and be seen as we are.” In and among the agendas, programs, demands, expectations, false dreams, pressures, loneliness, hurts, shopping lists and cookies there is a constant and consistent anchor that declares: “Hope” and to be aware that who we are is precious and good and holy. To continually strive to be authentic and real and who we truly are as the Light breaks forth on us.
As this season unfolds and very quickly seems to be consumed by everything else besides hope – let us continually come back to the light of hope and be seen by God for who we are and who we are created to be – Beloved Children of God on a journey aware that God is with us this Advent and always. Let us stand in the light this season, in fact let us bask in the light of this season as we draw closer to the light of the stable. Let us stand in the light as we are (broken, redeemed and blessed) and be bearers of this light which is hope as we “increase and abound in love for one another and for all” (1 Thessalonians 3.12) (this is a true Advent challenge). Let us take the risk this Advent to walk more honestly and more openly into the Light who calls to us and says “I will fulfill the promises I made” (Jeremiah 33.14) for I am with you always – no matter what. For our God risked all to walk with us and did not and or has ever hid love from us. This Advent let us look forward, back and within because we are people of hope and Children of the Light.
Week 1 Advent Goals:
Be aware of and enjoy and appreciate the stars and Christmas lights this week.
Identify three qualities about yourself/areas of your life which challenge you to risk standing in the light.