What this season tells us about hope in an uncertain world. (Published by RELEVANT)
“I’ve never looked forward to Advent as much as this year,” a pastor friend recently said to me. With ongoing news of global tensions and suffering many of us feel tired and off kilter. As Christians, we remind ourselves that “God is still on his throne.” But as the world brims with heartbreak, it’s easy to wonder, “Has God has taken a hiatus? Is God really in control?”
In the weeks before Christmas, many of us set up a wreath and light candles in anticipation of Jesus’ birth. Advent, the Latin word for “arrival,” reminds us that God stepped into human flesh. Emmanuel. God is with us and for us.
Advent reassures us that God hasn’t abandoned us or our fallen, broken world.
The prophet Isaiah expressed hope for God to deliver his people during a period of turbulent divisions. As the Northern and Southern kingdoms fought bitterly, leaving them vulnerable to enemy attacks, and eventual ruin, God promised them a Savior: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Today, our communities and world face turbulent fighting and bitter divisions. The recent U.S. presidential election has left many of us divided and fearing for the future. Images of Syrian refugees fleeing genocide flood us with grief and powerlessness. Already, many of us are overwhelmed in our own personal lives, too. Like Isaiah, we long for God to move.
Advent reminds us of the extravagant lengths God has gone to rescue us and restore our world.
As Christmas approaches, we remember Israel’s hope for the coming Messiah—to save, forgive and restore. Today, many church communities light candles and read Scriptures aloud on Sunday mornings: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:1)
Advent calls for us to remove the distractions and get into God’s presence to face the reality of our lives and world, no matter how ugly. The Spirit whispers for us to pour out our hurt, confusion, resentment, anger, fear and anxiety. (1 Peter 5:7) God searches our depths, turning our faces toward eternal light. (Psalm 139:23-24) And we realize how desperately the world needs Emmanuel.
Advent guarantees that God has the upper hand even when the opposite seems true.
Living in between two worlds—heaven and earth—Jesus’ spirit reminds us not to lose hope. Although . . . Continue reading . . .