December 4: God Breaks In
I’ve said many times that God’s message of hope throughout the Bible is the message that we need not fear. It’s easy to say, but harder to do. What can dispel the fears we have in our lives?
The light of the Advent candles reminds us what can cast out fear: hope, peace, joy and love. It is hard to focus on fear when we’re filled with joy. It is difficult to be at peace when you are experiencing fear. It is hard to love that which you fear. When fear consumes us, it can make us feel that all hope is lost.
It shouldn’t surprise us that angels so often greet us saying, “Be not afraid.” We live with and in fear most of our lives. We find fear so easily even in that which was intended for hope, love, peace and joy.
For Christians, Advent is the beginning of our liturgical year. It’s the four weeks leading up to the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. We tend to jump right from Thanksgiving to Christmas (for that matters it seems most stores jump from Halloween to Christmas). We call December the season of Christmas, but really that doesn’t start until Christmas Day (the twelve days of Christmas). We are in the season of Advent and we should live into it because it helps us recognize what God has done and is doing through becoming incarnate in Jesus the Christ. God is breaking into the world.
Advent is a time of waiting and anticipating what Jesus’ arrival means. In part, it is the absence of Jesus during Advent that helps us understand why we celebrate when Christ comes as a light in the darkness. We only truly understand the gift of light when we’ve been in darkness. Sometimes we need to sit in absence and wait.
I know we love to rush into Christmas and sing the carols and put up the decorations, but could we try to live in the anticipation of God breaking into our world yet again? Can we sit with Advent and imagine what it may have been like for those who were waiting for hope to break in for the first time? Can we patiently pray for God to break into our own lives with hope, peace, joy, and love?
The message of Advent is that God breaks in. God breaks into our world not to punish us, but to save us. Throughout the Bible, there are stories of how God acts directly in people’s lives for salvation. Sometimes we long for those grand gestures, like the exodus through the Red Sea or an angel shutting the mouths of lions. Yet the promise of Advent is that God still breaks in. We need to know that hope is with us and can still break into our lives.
That’s why Advent is important. In anticipating the arrival of the baby who will be born in a manger, it teaches us to hope in the face of fears and to look for the ways God breaks into our lives.
In common calling,