Every December (sometimes starting on the last Sunday in November), we in the church begin a season of preparation, Advent.
This odd time seems so counter-cultural these days. With Christmas and other holiday decorations creeping out earlier and earlier, carols blaring from mall speakers, and radio stations infesting our cars with sentimental words about roasting chestnuts, it may feel like our message of waiting and hope falls on deaf ears. Everyone else seems to be celebrating already while we’re saying, “not yet!”
Of course, we’re not in so much denial that we pretend Jesus was never born; to say so would be to ignore Christ’s death and resurrection. Instead, we pray to God, “stir up your power, and come,” in hope that God would come into our lives at a time when we most need it. We also sing songs filled with images of light and hope. With the days approaching their shortest, we can’t help but plead with God to again send Christ, the light of the world, into our lives. The fifth verse of Savior of the Nations, Come found in our hymnal summarizes it well:
Now your manger, shining bright,
hallows night with newborn light.
Night cannot this light subdue;
let our faith shine ever new.
This season of Advent, let us not pretend that Jesus has yet to be born. Instead, let us look forward to God’s coming again among us. Let us hope in a promise fulfilled when the time comes that God will take all our muck and make it whole. When all else seems to be dread and fear and hate, let us sing of hope and light and wholeness. Let us show that same hope and light and wholeness that God promises to the world through our words and actions. And, when the world seems to be at its darkest hour, may transcendent light and love fill our hearts with the arrival of the Christ-child once again.
Love has come – a light in the darkness!
Love shines forth in the Bethlehem skies.
See, all heaven has come to proclaim it;
hear how their song of joy arises:
Love! Love! Born unto you, a Savior!
Love! Love! Glory to God on high.