The HOPE in Advent

This Sunday we will be celebrating the beginning of Advent. As a kid, my family practiced Advent at home, lighting the advent candles and reading some scriptures out loud.  I remember being more entranced with playing with fire, than the actual meaning behind each candle we lit.

However, Advent can be a wonderful time of reflection and growth.  This season marks a period of expectation and preparation to celebrate the coming of the Messiah.

In the Anglican tradition, the season begins four Sundays before Christmas. Each of the four Sundays we will light a candle to represent Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, respectively.

Christiane and I want to emphasize entering this season with expectation. As we all reflect on HOPE this week, let’s read carefully what the angel announces to Mary:

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:30–33 (ESV)

If the miracle of a virgin birth wasn’t enough for Mary to take in, the actual identity of the One she would give birth to would change the world forever. Later on in this series on Advent, we will examine Mary’s response more closely. For now, can we pause and marvel at these words? His kingdom shall have no end.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of this season. For some of us, this can even be a very stressful season. So, we want to invite you to take a fresh look at Advent from the perspective of expectation.

Expectation for Him to come yesterday – can you imagine what was like to expect the birth of Jesus? The moment God Incarnate became man among us? We can learn so many lessons just by thinking about that moment. There were  people at the time, like Simeon and Anna, who were thrilled to see the fulfillment of the promise of the coming Messiah (see Luke 2:25-38). Others had no clue of what was happening. Today, we can find people longing for a Messiah they don’t know is alive. People with expectation for a better life, who haven’t met Him yet. While others may just be unaware of our need to welcome His Kingdom.

There is also the expectation of the coming of Jesus tomorrow – the moment when He comes back to make all wrongs right. The moment of seeing Him in all his glory, and being face to face with Him forever.

Then, there is the expectation of Him coming to us today. Let’s not lose this Hope. This expectation causes our hearts to align with His. This is the reality that gives us Peace, Joy, and the ability to receive and extend Love.

He initiated His Kingdom, and we are waiting for the day when it will be fully realized, but don’t forget that it IS here now. So, turn to Him! Let the hope of being transformed by His power and love fill your hearts and minds. Remember: He can give us more than what we can ask for. Ask for His presence in every area of your life where you need Him, and watch for a transformation that not only allows you to survive this life, but propels you to make a difference.

Christiane and I want to leave you with a quote we find helpful. As you practice growing in expectation, we pray you may find it helpful too:

“Gratitude and thankfulness are choices you can make to transform your perspective in every situation you find yourself in. You have a choice in transformation. And yet there are other parts of your transformation that are like a virgin birth—in the way that you’re not in charge of any of it. It’s less about your mustering up the strength to accomplish something and more about your being open to the transformation that God wants to do in you. It begins quietly and deeply within you.” (Scott Erickson – Honest Advent)

As we enter this season of Advent together, would you take the time to quiet your heart long enough for expectation to form, and transformation to take root?  The loving Father, Son, and Holy Spirit wants to meet you as you turn to HIm.

Blessings and Peace,

Rev. Todd and Dr. Christiane