Every November, I make sure to have four deep blue candles for our Advent wreath. My family sings “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” as we light one candle this first week. In the words of the song, we call to God to come close and sing the story of God’s care and connection to God’s people. Each week, we’ll add another candle until all four are burning, bringing light in to this darkest time of the year.
Advent is the beginning of the church year, beginning four Sundays before Christmas Eve. The wreath, reminds us of the ever- increasing light God brings into our world. It is a season of expectation.
Advent is a time of hopeful waiting, even in difficult times. Our expectation is grounded in God’s promises to the vulnerable, the brokenhearted, to those most in need (including God’s promises to us when we are vulnerable, broken-hearted and in need).
The candles of the Advent wreath remind us that even when the night seems deepest, when we feel most alone and without hope, the light of God’s love and God’s faithfulness will disperse the shadows. One little light makes such a huge difference when night is the deepest, longest, and most troubling.
Advent readings from the gospel of Mark and the Old Testament prophet Isaiah remind us that Jesus’ coming into the world at Bethlehem was just the first act, the beginning. We live in the middle of the action. The finale will come one day when God transforms all of creation finally and fully. At that finale, there will be no more death, no more brokenness, no more sorrow, no more pain. We are looking forward to the time when all will be healed and God will bring all of creation into never-ending peace and joy.
May Advent be for you a time of hopeful waiting.
May it be a time to find peace within yourself despite unrest and upheaval around you.
May Advent be a time to find God’s presence clearly in difficulty, struggle and pain.
May it be a time to see that God is incredibly close, always.
“Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:4-5