“’The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.’” Jeremiah 33.14
A Word of Hope
We lit our final Advent Candle on Sunday as we continued observance of the season of preparation that anticipates the birth of God among us. We hear that sort of definition of the Advent Season every year, but what does preparing for God’s arrival actually mean to you? We often overlook the fact that according to the church calendar, Advent is actually the beginning of the New Year, which is a time when we are accustomed to resolving to take steps toward improving our lives. In this light, I think of the season as a time to prepare not only for the birth of Jesus on the earth, but also for the new birth of God within each of us.
With all the festive hard-sell Holiday audio and visual distractions that surround us, this, more than any other season, is the perfect time to turn off the media and quiet ourselves, being mindful to do the work of God in the world. Practicing what Jesus preaches is really what Advent preparation is all about. One of my favorite theologians, Karen Armstrong tells us, “Like driving, dancing or gymnastics, you learn the truths of faith only by constant, dedicated practice… Religious truth is a species of practical knowledge. Like swimming, we cannot learn it in the abstract; we have to plunge into the pool and acquire the knack by dedicated practice.”
In the Children’s Ministry, we always undertake a project of preparation for the birth of the Christ into the world, such as the Children’s Christmas Pageant this year. When I asked children who among them would like to be involved in some way in telling Jesus’ story, out of a Children’s Church congregation of 4-year olds through 10-year olds, not a hand was left down. Children are eager to bring the message of Christ to the world and devoted dedicated practice to their play during those Advent days of preparation. As a result, the Spirit of God was born again in them before the whole congregation. The children are like living Advent Candles, always making the Season bright with their Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
May the faith of a child continue to prepare the way for each of us.
Minister for Children and Families