Monday, December 10, 2018

Week 2: The Candle of Faith

Today we lit the second Advent candle. I have chosen to call this candle the candle of faith.

Hebrews tells us at the beginning of chapter 11: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The first week of Advent, we focused on hope. Now faith—the confidence of that hope—comes to help us tell another step in the Christmas story.

The road to the manger is full of people characterized by their faith. Like the Old Testament characters showcased in Hebrew 11’s “hall of faith,” some of these never got to see the results of their faith. They trusted and acted according to God’s call on their lives without their convictions ever becoming sight. How much we have to learn from them!

And those who’s faith did become sight? Well, they have a powerful story as well. They act as witnesses to the birth of Christ, the ones who have helped record this holy narrative.

Modern believers find themselves in an interesting intersection between the waiting and the fulfillment of centuries-old hope. Along this idea, Professor Michelle Blake writes,

“One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along, that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.”

I believe Mary had this knowledge of the soul. As well as her betrothed Joseph. Her cousin Elizabeth, too, was a woman seeping spiritual knowledge. Zechariah got the hang of things after nine months a mute. The shepherds didn’t take the angels’ greeting as absurdity. The wise men traveled farther than they had ever gone, with strong assurance and conviction. Was it only science that led their way? And Anna and Simeon. There’s is probably the faith that most resembles my own. The faith of those waiting, with little detail, for the promise they have heard.

The stories of faith in the Bible tell us just as much about the characters themselves as the God they served. The same God who formed the stars and set them in their courses. The God whose mind is on the sparrow. The God who has counted the hairs on your head. The God who reached beyond space and time, humbling Himself to become an infant child. When we put our faith in Him, it is not just hope, it is a secure knowledge that Someone is holding all things together in the palm of His hands.

The woven tapestry of our history as believers in Christ did not start with his birth. It began before the dawn of time and it is a plan so intricate that all we can do is marvel and trust that the mystery is not a mystery to Him who wove it into being. And just as the story began before Christ’s advent on earth, it will continue past the sphere of our own understanding, and on into eternity. For God has written eternity on our hearts. I believe that was a much a true for the Nativity players as it is for us today. How else could they have lived with such radical and active faith?

As you reflect this week, think about how the faith of our fore-bearers has paved the way for you be a man or woman of faith. A faith that hears, responds, and acts—for God’s glory and our joy.

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