Advent reminds us that the gap of time between what we are hoping for and the time in which in which we actually receive it is a valuable process. The act of receiving involves the process of obtaining and often the process of waiting. In terms of character devlopment, how we wait is just as important as how we obtain. Both take grace but somehow in the satisfaction of obtaining, we can forget the shortcomings of how we waited. Christmas has a way of challenging us in the area of waiting on so many levels. Have we been frustrated, impatient and full of complaints? Lord, give us the grace to be graceful waiters and teach us how to wait well. Amen.
“…They (the wise men) went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. (Matt. 2: 9,10) How could a star bring such joy? Because it led to the place where they found the King. Following that star of light was a journey and a pathway that led to hope and joy and life. Not all stars lead to life and not all journeys we follow are life-giving. We need to honestly ask ourselves what we are following because what we are following determines what lies at the end of our journey. There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 16:25), and following nothing will lead to nothing. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) What are you following?
Israel waited centuries for the Saviour to come, but only a handful of people actually found Him around the time of his birth. They left what they were doing and set out to meet the One who came. But most missed Him. Advent reminds us not to miss Him. It beckons us to leave our “busy doing” in order to prepare and make space for Him in our lives. We light the candles, and widely open the door of our hearts. He still comes.
In terms of the world, peace is defined as someday when there will be no more conflict. Personal peace is not that simple. We expect our lives to be full of conflict, trials and challenging circumstances everyday. But there is a peace that is greater than ourselves and beyond this world. The story of the Christmas baby Jesus does not end like a song with him “sleeping in heavenly peace”. The story continues beyond the song as the baby becomes the Prince of Peace and offers the way for us to make peace with God. A peace that holds our feet on the Rock when all else sinks, and anchors our soul when all else is swept away. A peace that speaks to our spirit during the storms of life and says, “Peace Be still.” This is not for some day in the future. This is here and this is now for all who embrace their King, just as Mary embraced her baby on that Christmas night so long ago. T. Long
Our spirit and soul desperately search for it and may temporarily be satisfied with a fleeting imposter, but joy so true, so pure, so unshakeable, unmistakeable and incomparable can only be found in Jesus. The miracle of Christmas is finding Jesus in the manger and entering our world. The miracle of Joy is finding Jesus at the door and entering our heart. Joy to the World…..repeat the sounding joy! T. Long
Hope waits for a promise that is not yet fulfilled. Hope watches for a star that has not yet appeared. Hope walks to a place that is not yet known.
The wise men were on a journey of “not yets” long before they ever arrived at their destination. But it was also a journey of hope because they believed they would find what they were searching for. We find Hope when we are hoping to find Him. The second candle at Advent reminds us that He is the Hope not only of our destination, but also of our present journey. Like a star, He lights a path for us to follow, and His rays of hope penetrate deep into the “not yets” of our hearts.
As we light the candle on our wreaths this First Advent Sunday, we join with Christendom today and from centuries past to enter a season of meaningful and joyful devotion. Together we freshly reflect on the glorious mystery of God Incarnate, the Holy Christ Immanuel – God with us.
At Advent, we remember that without Him we are cold and empty stables. We humbly offer Him the straw of our lives. We ready our hearts and prepare Him room. We invite a King to find a resting place in our lowly mangers, and to come and warm our hearts again with new-born wonder and amazement. Come Lord Jesus. T.Long