Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent. It seems almost impossible to comprehend. Wasn't it just a short time ago that we were celebrating the Queen's birthday. Was Melbourne Cup day really weeks ago? But here we are- the feast of the Reign of Christ was last Sunday let Advent begin.
Advent has always been a season of preparation. Throughout much of Christian history, Advent was a solemn time. You entered a time of thoughtful preparation in order that the Christ child's birth might impact their lives. Over the past century though Advent has become a more joyful time of preparation. We celebrate advent now and anticipate the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love leading up to the birth of the child in a manger.
However whether it be a solemn or joyful preparation, getting ready takes a lot of work. It is not just an easy tick to make in a box. We need to be willing to be changed. And that is never an easy thing.
So how will we be changed? Let's use the four candles of the advent wreath to describe what change can be made. First is Hope. We are living in a world that craves hope. Bad news abounds. But the same was true during the time of the Christ. With the birth of that child, the world was changed. Light conquered darkness; life vanquished death. For us no matter how dark the world seems, let us renew our belief that hope abounds.
Second is peace. We live in a world addicted to war. North Korea and the United States are pointing weapons of ultimate destruction at each other. How many countries are making profits by selling weapons to countries such as Israel and Afghanistan. Yet the child of peace promised a world where even the lion and the lamb might lie down together. May this season of peace inspire all to lay down their swords.
Third is joy. We know happiness when we get an unexpected card or make merry with friends. We know happiness when we give the right gift. But joy is more than happiness. Happiness is brief and fleeting. But joy is for ever. We know that with the birth of Jesus, all lives were deemed worthy because God so loved the world that God sent to us a son. No one from the past, the present, or the future is beyond the scope of redemption. This is our lasting joy.
Fourth is love. In the Christmas movie, Love Actually, we are taught that love is all around us. How often do we miss that fact. In the midst of the every day humdrum of life, we sometimes forget that love is there. We have bills to pay, the dog gets sick, and the car needs repair and we sometimes forget what love means to us. But the child in the manger teaches us that love changes everything. No matter what obstacles we face, love wins. Blessings.