As we approach this Sunday, we begin a new cycle of the Christian year. The Christian year begins in the season of Advent, four Sundays prior to Christmas. Each Sunday of Advent is often reflected by lighting a candle. As the year grows darker and darker (and the days grow shorter and shorter) with the approach of winter, we light up our worship with more candles in recognition of the coming of the Light of the world.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
The four Sundays of Advent focus on four themes that surround the anticipation and expectation of the coming of Jesus – hope, peace, joy and love.
As the first Sunday of Advent approaches, some thoughts about hope from Paul Sheneman’s Illuminate: An Advent Experience.
Hope is an odd thing to understand. We typically think of hope as a good thing. Yet hope is rarely found in places where good things happen regularly. Rather, hope is found in places where bad things happen, such as when we experience hurt and loss. So if you meet people who are hopeful, they can usually tell you stories of pain or suffering.
Christian hope embraces two truths. The first truth is that we live in a world of pain and suffering. Embracing the truth of a suffering world affects the way we view the world and interact with others. The second truth is that there is a good God who can and will heal the pain and suffering in the world. In Advent we retell the story of this good and powerful God who came in the form of a little baby to heal the hurting world.
Where do you see “the light of hope” in others, yourself, in our world?