Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Reason for the Season

I love the season of Advent for many reasons. The smells of evergreen and cinnamon; the glimmer of twinkle lights; the sounds of bells and carols being sung. These are all high up on the list. But the other reason I hold fast to Advent is the honesty that the Christmas story portrays. Cherub and holly-lined nativity scenes may paint a glossy picture of Christ’s descent to Earth, but the story is as difficult and gritty as it gets. When life is overwhelming and the next step feels as daunting as the last, the story of Advent gives us Hope. Not only Hope in the future, but hope for the now. The fact that God faithfully led the Christmas characters to the right place and time (through hardship and pain) in order for His son to be born—that means He can (and is) doing no less for us today. This is a world full of pain, and evil, and strife. But that is why Jesus came.

One author recently paralleled this idea by saying, “We’ve been tricked by chocolate-filled Advent calendars and blissful Christmas pageants that gloss over the very real evil that makes the Messiah’s coming so very necessary, so very loving, and so very heroic" (Cleveland, 2014).

I don’t know about you, but I hardly ever think of Jesus as a hero. Not in the same way that Aragorn, Frodo, and Sam were storybook heroes. But that modern spin on the old story is what Hope should means for us. The feeling and assurance we have when we look to the One who can save us from the things we don’t even understand.

Advent is a time when we can shake off the disguises we wear and truly reflect on our frail condition, covered by the sovereignty, grace, and goodness of Almighty God.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Welcome to Advent 2014!

Dear friends (and those who may have stumbled upon this blog),   

If you've joined me the last few years, you are probably familiar with Advent. But for any new readers, this will serve as an introduction: 

In latin the word "adventus" means "coming." Within the context of western Christianity, Advent is the season of four weeks leading up to Christmas--the celebration of Christ's birth. It is a time of joyful expectation and preparation. The four weeks are marked by the four Sundays, on which the candles of the Advent wreath are lit.

The first candle is traditionally the candle of Hope. The remaining three candles of Advent may be associated with different aspects of the Advent story in different churches, or even in different years. Usually they are organized around characters or themes as a way to unfold the story and direct attention to the celebrations and worship in the season. So, the sequence for the remaining three Sundays might be Bethlehem, Shepherds, Angels. Or Peace, Joy, and Love.  Or John the Baptist, Mary, the Magi. Or the Annunciation, Proclamation, Fulfillment.

I will be writing within these themes, focusing on poems and reflections from some of the great writers in Christendom, as well as passages of Scripture that point to the coming of the Messiah. Christ's ancestry was indeed a Lineage of Expectation--a chronology of hopeful longing and preparation.

Thanks for joining me this season!