This season of the church’s liturgical year is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The word “advent” is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, “coming.” We are waiting for what is coming!
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Is. 9:2, NIV).
“Later, Jesus spoke to the people again and said, “I am the light of the world. The man who follows me will never walk in the dark but will live his life in the light” (John 8: 10, Phillips).
WAITING FOR THE LIGHT
Isaiah 9:1-6 proclaims that a radical transformation is about to happen – a transformation from darkness to light, from sadness to joy, from oppression to freedom, from war to peace because of the voice of a child. The world waited for many years for that prophecy to be fulfilled. And when it happened, the religious leaders attempted to put the light out.
Before his death, Jesus promised that his followers – those who responded to his calls to “Come and see” and “Follow me,” – would live their lives in the light. What is it like to live in the light? Perhaps examples of living in the dark are easier to understand. Living in sadness or bitterness or estrangement or depression is living in the dark. Living a lie, telling lies, living behind a mask, living to satisfy the needs of a raging ego, living in betrayal – this is living in the dark. Living a life for the purpose of gaining power or control is living in the dark.
Do you have an expectations for radical transformation – for yourself, your family, your church the world – during the Advent season? Try these ways of focusing on the light:
If you feel the dark depression that sometimes comes with the Christmas season, spend some time looking up references to light in your Bible. Pick one that really speaks to you. Make or buy a beautiful Christmas card and write the verse on the card. Read it before you rise in the morning and when you go to bed at night.
Bring joy where there is sadness. Do you know some who will find sadness during Advent perhaps because of job loss, grief, poor health or financial problems. Find a way to bring a smile to his or her face during this season.
Move from war to peace in your own heart. Do you need to forgive? Do you need to give up bitterness, anger and self-righteousness. Make the choice to be the one who reconciles during the Advent season.
Transform oppression into freedom: support a child through Compassion International or World Vision. Give to Feeding America so children will be free of food insecurity. Speak up for the cause of Syrian refugees. Support agencies that care for victims of human trafficking in the U.S or in Thailand or in Africa.
Make this a time when people (including yourself) who are walking in darkness will see great light and walk into the dawn of a new life with Jesus.