by Rev. Mona Chicks, CFDM Board Member
What does Advent mean to you? Is it a circle of oddly-colored candles, wrapped in festive greenery or simple on a silver stand? Is it a child reading a bible verse in corporate worship that sits oddly with the rest of the service? Is it a time ripe with meaning, in which the story of Jesus’ coming unfolds as we look back and look forward to when He will come again?
This year, I’ve been struck by the adventure of Advent. It’s not simply about telling the story, it’s a movement through emotion. It is the journey of spiritual growth. It is looking back on the first Christmas, and looking forward to Jesus’ return. It is the story of Jesus, but also the story of us.
During Advent, we move from hope and expectation, to peace, through joy, and into love. We listen to the story of Jesus’ birth each year as we prepare for Christmas, but also we are living it out as we move through the stages of spiritual growth.
A new Christian is full of hope and expectation – the first week of Advent. Jesus has reached in and changed a heart, making it new and drawing it into the eternal possibility of relationship with God.
With continued growth, peace inhabits that hope, fills it, and brings a solidity and fullness to it. The excitement of the new Christian is dampened by the struggles of human life that continue, but peace invades it with the realization that one does not now struggle alone. This is the second week of Advent.
Joy, the third week of Advent, breaks through as the Christian sees God’s faithfulness and leans into it – bringing all their struggles to God’s attention and leaving them there. Joy is not the absence of problems, but is the undercurrent of all of life with God.
And, finally, love. When all of life is centered in love, God’s will is done. Our Trinitarian God is, above all else, about love. That love that exists between the three persons of the Trinity is shared with God’s Creation from the beginning, but is not understood until a certain level of Christian maturity is gained. This is our goal in the Christian life – to live in that love, accepting it and expressing it in all we do.
The Christian journey is an adventure. Where do you find yourself on this journey? Which week of Advent resonates with your life right now? As you look back over your journey so far and look forward to where you want to be, where are you seeing Advent become relevant to your life?
My prayer this Advent season is that I will continue this journey to engulf myself more and more deeply in hope, peace, joy, and love. I pray that for you as well.
Amen. Let it be so.