It’s the first Sunday of advent today. It’s 28 days until Christmas Day. We’ve officially entered the season of hopefulness and anticipation. Although I hate the cold and the dark which accompanies this time of year, I think it is probably my favourite time. I get butterflies in my stomach. Not because I can’t wait for Christmas day and turkey dinner and presents. Not because I want time off work with the family, although that is great. But because this is when I get excited right down to my toes about the utter miracle of love which is the incarnation of God.
We have a God who gave up everything Kingly and heavenly to be born as a crying, helpless baby so that we would see and know God. So that He could show us that we are understood. That we aren’t meaningless or a bit of a side show. No – we are made to know and be known by the King.
Yesterday we bought a Christmas tree and pulled all the decorations down from the loft. I have always been of the view that people who put up Christmas decorations in November are a little bit keen. Yes, I make my advent ring and we light candles each Sunday, but decorations and trees usually make an appearance the weekend before Christmas. This year I needed them early. I need light and hope. I need evidence of good things to come. I need a long celebration of anticipation and butterflies in my stomach and excitement down to my toes.
The world feels heavy. Syrians are being bombed to death. Racism and homophobia seem to be growing not shrinking. Poverty increases. On Christmas Eve we are having a party – people offered to bring food and instead we’re suggesting that they make donations to our local foodbank, because in this very affluent area we live in people don’t have enough money to feed their families. There is pain everywhere. This week I got a phone call from a friend at the moment she felt like ending her life. She didn’t, but her grief was palpable. All is not well with the world. We are not being our best selves.
I need Advent. I need this season of hope.
I am grabbing it with both hands and every day I will be thankful for the God who came as a baby to show that we are loved. I believe that one day all pain and suffering will cease. I believe that until then we are called to do all the good we can for all the people we can in all the ways we can.
So as I hold on to hope it’s not a nebulous concept. It’s about knowing that I am blessed and being a blessing to others. I heard about the #AdventChallenge today. You can sign up online and every day of Advent you will get an email with a suggestion of an act of kindness you can do that day. Every day during Advent you will be part of the hope of the season.
I’m going to sign up. I’m going to take hold of hope. I’m going to try to share it with as many people as I can, and this Advent I’m going to delight in every sparkling bauble and twinkling light as I remember that the great light of the world has come.