Often during Advent, churches will have a wreath with five candles in it. Each week they light one more of the candles until on Christmas Day the final candle is lit as the Christ Candle. It’s a pretty liturgical ritual – and one that assists in giving rhythm to Advent as we traverse through the weeks of Hope, Peace, Love, Joy, and finally Christ.
It has also become a ritual to acknowledge how difficult it can be to link our end-of-year rush to
those Advent virtues. How is there peace when we all feel stressed? Can we really speak of hope when our country still holds innocent lives imprisoned on Nauru and Manus Island?
Strangely, this season of Advent is exactly about living within this tension.
The most misleading view of Advent I know is to pretend that it is found primarily in domestic bliss, children’s toys and overflowing family dinners. Each of these are wonderful moments in life, but our call into the Advent story yearns for even more than this!
The Advent story to which we are invited, reminds us that rather than the dominant might of Rome, God will choose to enter our lives as a new born baby in Bethlehem. Rather than a vision of overpowering triumph, we will be invited to see the humble sparks of love amidst a young family far away from home. Rather than Advent as a quick fix, it is a poem that speaks of patient, troubled hope that never lets go amidst the strife.
None of us are called to have it all together – especially during this season. It is frantic and festive, busy and beautiful all at once. To be faithful during these December days is rather to nurture the moments of hope, peace, love, and joy as we encounter them. They will be there; however fleeting and fragile they might seem. And they are glimpses of the love that will reconcile all things into the embrace of God.
We will love.