First Week of Advent: Hope

O come, O come, Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

The lead up to Christmas is often a busy time of shopping, baking, and parties. In the traditional church calendar, however, Advent – the four weeks before Christmas – is meant to be a time of fasting and prayer. The purpose of Advent is to remind us that before the birth of Jesus, there was a solemn season of waiting. Mary was waiting for a baby. The Israelites were waiting to be delivered from slavery. And the world was waiting to be saved from sin.

2000 years later, the Messiah has arrived, the Israelites have been freed, and we have been delivered from our sin through Christ’s blood.  

And yet, we still wait.

We continue to live in a broken world, where the news reminds us that the enemy is still seeking to destroy us. We still wait for Christ’s return. But wrapped in His grace, we wait more optimistically.

In order to mark this season of waiting, we wanted to share the liturgical tradition of the Advent candles with our viewers. The four candles – three purple and one pink – represent hope, peace, joy, and love. To mark the first week of Advent, Abby lit the first purple candle, representing hope: hope for the coming Messiah and hope that things will get better while we are still here on this earth.

One of the most hope-filled passages in scripture can be found in John 1:1-5:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

When we light the first Advent candle, we are saying that we will not allow darkness to overcome the light. We are saying that good triumphs over evil and that all shall be redeemed. We are saying that we are daughters and sons of a risen King and that we choose hope.

The lighting of the candle is not a passive act. It reminds us that we too are the light, as Jesus said in Matthew 5:14. We can shine a light in dark places, providing a hot meal or a kind word. We can sponsor or support a family who needs help. We can share the Good News with those who need encouraging.  We can give up that parking space at the mall, cheerfully.

This year, we plan to approach the holidays a little differently. Rather than getting caught up in the countdown to Christmas, we will approach the Advent season mindfully, focusing on the message of each week. We will seek to capture the hope, peace, joy, and love of that very first Christmas, over 2000 years ago.

We invite you to join us on this journey.