We are in full on Christmas mode, aren’t we? Traffic is worse than normal. Stores are more crowded. Children are making wish lists. People appear to be completely hurried. Anxiety about what to buy for loved ones and how much to spend on them is running high. We all know how commercialized Christmas has become and yet every year, we fall into the same trap. We worry and hustle and run around frantic.
This year, I decided to do an Advent study. I used to do Advent related things when I was younger growing up in the Catholic church. Once I became older, I drifted away from truly reflecting on this season. I wanted this year to be different. This whole year has flown by in very much a blur. The world has dealt with all manner of trauma, from natural disaster to deaths to every sort of tension. This year, my life has experienced extreme highs that were often overshadowed by extreme lows.
My soul has been crying out for rest and peace and a slower pace. I’m sure that you’ve probably been feeling this as well. My life is busy and the holidays seem to bring out the extra busy. But, I am choosing intentionality in my schedule and in my focus.
The term Advent is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming.” It is a reminder of Christ’s first coming as well as a reminder of His second coming. Wrapped up in all of this is this process of waiting and expectation and hope. I don’t know about you, but when I look back on the hard of this year and the craziness in the world around me, I can feel a bit hopeless.
But God. Over 2,000 years ago, He sent hope wrapped in human flesh, swaddled in a manger.
I have been re-discovering the beautiful and tangible reminder of what Christ’s birth really meant for us within the candles used during Advent:
Hope with the “Prophet’s Candle” reminding us that Jesus is coming.
“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
There were prophecies upon prophecies followed by 400 years of silence. Everyone had something in mind when they thought about the coming Messiah. They thought He would come in power as a military king. Only, He did come in power. It just wasn’t the type of power anyone expected. He came with a quiet strength and a sole focus to be about the Father’s business. He came with the purpose of saving humanity from our sins.
Faith with the “Bethlehem Candle” reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
“Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Where would we be if not for Mary’s deep faith and her and Joseph’s obedience? They trusted and obeyed God without fully understanding. God works in the realm of mystery. He wants us to trust that He knows what is best and what will bring Him glory. He wants hearts fully surrendered to Him even with just a mustard seed of faith.
Joy with the “Shepherd’s Candle” reminding us of the joy the world experienced at the coming birth of Jesus.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’ ” (Luke 2:10)
He is JOY . . . at His birth and even at His death He was a joy because His death led to the resurrection that leads to eternal life. Each and every part of His life speaks of unending joy. There is joy in every promise His life and death holds.
Peace with the “Angel’s Candle” reminding us of the angel’s message of peace.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)
The Prince of Peace, God with us. He came and dwelt among us. When He left, He left His Spirit to dwell within us. When He returns, we will be caught up in the air to dwell forevermore with Him. The enemy loves for us to focus on the chaos around us. He knows that will only bring chaos to our souls. With eyes and hearts fixed on Christ, our souls find true Shalom. The peace that He gives cannot be shaken or taken away.
The world may forget the only reason for the season, but I refuse to give into the holiday rush.
Instead, I will lean into
The King of Glory is calling us to remembrance through Advent. And hope, faith, joy, and peace await us there.
Are you finding it difficult to avoid the holiday rush? How do you observe this glorious season of Advent?