If you were to do a quick search of the term advent, you would find it defined: “The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” While advent is most certainly all of those things, to the Christian church, it is so much more. The four weeks leading to Christmas day are a sacred time of reflecting, praying, and fasting, that, if you allow them, can bring an entirely new perspective to the Christmas season. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to head over to the series introduction. From there, you will notice that we have provided a generalized overview of an old tradition known as the Christmas Advent Wreath. We have used the rich symbolism from the Christmas Advent Wreath to build a series that we truly believe we will all grow from.
With all that being said, we'd like to welcome you to the first week of our Christmas Advent series! Although we are not technically following the actual "Advent Calendar" (First week of Advent started Sunday, November 30th), we will still be discussing the rich meaning and symbolism behind the individual candles of the Christmas Advent Wreath. All the while, we will be discussing how the given topic calls for worship. SO traditionally, the first week of advent is represented by the lighting of the advent wreath's first candle. This candle is typically purple and titled the HOPE candle, representing the hope and anticipation of the coming Messiah.
There is no doubt about it, the Christmas season is, by far, my favorite time of year. People seem to make a dramatic shift right around Thanksgiving that triggers that “holiday mindset” of family, feasts, and overall holiday-themed cheer that can be infectious, if you’ll let it. It’s almost like we all take a break from normal life and focus around the same things.
However, with all the spending of our time, money, and resources to ensure the perfect Christmas season experience…I think it can be so easy to forget that the true reason for this season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Even though many do recognize and celebrate the birth of Jesus in some form or fashion, most do not recognize and reflect on the IMPACT of his birth. The birth of this baby boy literally changed the course of all history. The birth of Jesus Christ brought HOPE into a world that was hopelessly lost in sin. Only when you realize the significance of just how hopeless you were before Jesus will you realize how incredibly special this time of year really is. He came from Heaven to Earth as one of us on a search and rescue mission for our souls. He left a mark on this world that is impossible to erase.
Here's the thing...
The hope that comes from Jesus is more than just believing that he was once a baby in a manger. The hope that He brings is an anchor for our souls. It’s a hope that will guide us through our worst of times and propel us through our best of times. I know that there are times that it may feel like all hope is lost. With all of the acts of terror that seem to pop up on our newsfeeds and evil that floods into our minds every day by mainstream media it really seems to feel as though there is no hope. But, if you remember nothing else from this post, remember this…
Hope is not lost; it can’t be. It is impossible for hope to be lost because real hope comes from Christ. Jesus came to Earth and ensured that hope was his and his alone to give to those who do not deserve it.
So, this Advent season, I encourage all of us to not only remember the hope that is in Jesus but to embrace it. We have to live out every day of our lives in victory because while our battle may seem impossible for now, we can rest assured that Jesus has won the war for our souls! This year, let Christmas be an act of worship to Jesus, praising him for all that he’s done for us! Praise Him, for we have hope in His Word, and we anticipate his great return! Let it be a time of reflection and thankfulness for this hope. My challenge is to take every week of this beautiful time of year we call Christmas Advent, and walk in the goodness of what this season really is. The love of Jesus brought Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace to all of the Earth, and anyone who lives his or her life for him will surely find it in infinite abundance.
Exposing Worship in Spirit and Truth,
Recommended Track of the Week: "Oh Light" by The Liturgist
Note about this week's song - I think it’s an incredible way to remember the birth of Jesus, and, if you get the chance, I highly recommend that you listen to the entire Liturgy from start to finish. The album is titled, “A Light”, and I think you’ll really enjoy it. It even includes some awesome prayer and meditation exercises at the end that I encourage you to try out for yourself!