Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas Eve proper beginning at sundown.
I have the special honour this season to have been asked to contribute to the Church Advent Readings! I am so thrilled to be serving my Church family in this regard. To use any writing talent God has seen fit to bestow upon me, to further His Glory: in a word Awesome!
Our wonderful Pastor has supplied the scripture verses, and myself, the reading. The First Reading for Advent Sunday is HOPE.
Scripture: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7, Matthew 11:18, 21
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one whom I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. In his name the nations will put their hope.”
In the crisp morning air, a stroll through a garden finds one pressed with bittersweet longing. Not long ago a riot of colourful blooms swayed in the summer wind. Now, all has turned to brown decay. No fragrant scent to be found; but that of cold earth and mouldy leaves. Such is the way of changing seasons. For now, their delicate loveliness will linger beneath a cozy leafy cover. Until the first shy breath of sun, reaches in and beckons with its warmth. Coaxing their fragile heads upward to receive its’ light.
And would we, like these patient flowers, linger here: in a season of chilly doubt? Would faith and trust also be buried beneath the winter’s frost which touches both bulb and grassy blade? If only one could be still enough in these quiet moments of uncertainty, to see the coming light; beyond this season of darkness.
For as sure as we know that summer will turn to autumn, which gives way to winter….the spring will come. Not mere wishful thinking, or sunny optimism, but a most confident expectation. So is it also true: Hope always springs new. Our hope should not rest on the fleeting promises of a fickle world, but on the Creator! Surely if in His wisdom, He clothes the lilies of the field in glorious, yet short-lived arraignment; how much more would we, whom He holds most dear and precious to Him, be clothed to fulfill His greater purpose for us?
Lord God: in those moments when we lose heart, let us not also lose Hope. Surely we know that you hold us in your heart – through all seasons. By your Spirit let us be encouraged to stand in steadfast reliance of our Hope in You.