Yesterday I assembled a make-shift Advent candle wreath. In a handmade pie plate (gifted to me in my teaching days) now sit three green candles (which were a wedding present and which were used quite a bit in the ice storm of 2007) and a random taller red candle (which I acquired in a white elephant gift exchange last year). I cut an index card in fourths, wrote the Advent words on them, and tied them on the candles with twine. It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful, says The Nester. And I quite agree.
Today was the start of Advent. One of the things I miss about our previous church is the lighting of the Advent candles and the readings that went along with it. I did not grow up with Advent. However, I want my children to experience it. So last year I made a point to start the lighting of candles in our own home. Tonight when we sat down to light and to read, Bubby exclaimed, "I remember this from last year!" This is what I want. In a world often devoid of tradition and simplicity, I want my boys to remember that during the weeks before Christmas we lit candles, not for the sake of lighting candles, but for remembering the Light of the World, our source of hope, joy, peace, and love.
Each year for the past few years I have chosen a word. My word of the year this year is hope. That also happens to be the first word of Advent. While I was preparing something to read and say for this evening's family time, I felt intimidated. There is so much to say about hope.So much I still, eleven months later, have not learned. When I started to reflect upon hope this weekend I felt a bit defeated because in some situations hope seems to be hiding. How can I teach my boys about hope when there are days I barely understand it at all?
Then I read Sarah Bessey's blog today, as she also wrote about hope. I read the Scriptures she picked around my own kitchen table tonight. (Isaiah 60:1-5 and Isaiah 9:2 in The Message. I chose to read John 1:1-5 in the ESV. I also went on to read Romans 15:13 from the ESV.)
The Hubs lit the candle before I started reading and explaining. The power of the little light in a dark room hit me as my little green candle reminded me of great and glorious promises and of prophecies fulfilled. Hundreds of years before Jesus came, Isaiah prophesied that He would. John reminds us that Jesus has been there since the beginning. Paul encourages us in Romans that God is the one who fills us with hope by His Spirit.
The fact that Hope has always been a part of the plan - that it has always been the plan - amazes me. The world is dark, but there is a light that still shines, that will always shine. Just as two thousand years ago, God's people waited for the promise of True Hope to arrive, I find myself waiting for and anticipating True Hope coming back again. He has not left us alone. His light still shines, even in the darkness.
There is hope.
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." Isaiah 9:2 (The Message)
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:1-5 (ESV)
"May the God of hope fill you with all you and peace in believing so that by the poewr of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13 (ESV)