We are afraid that this year’s Advent will get Lost Under the Bright Lights of COVID-19. Please do not get us wrong. This human tragedy is felt by each of us, and the emotional and psychological toll cannot be denied. Nonetheless, there is hope because we believe that God is working in disguise and out of a chaotic situation to bring healing and restoration not just to a fearful and anxious world, but also to suffering humanity. Despite these salient points, just as God worked out of darkness and chaos to speak Light into a dark and shapeless world, God can speak light into this unusual season of the unknown. Let us not get lost Under the Bright Lights of Uncertainty.
We often wonder about the order of creation and the significance of the first thing that God created – light (Genesis 1:3, CEB). What does it mean for us theologically? Is it possible that God created light so that humanity might see and know of God’s creation? If this assertion is true, then we have hope. Interestingly, we lit the first Advent Candle on Sunday – The Candle of Hope. Hope is like a light shining in a dark place (John 1:5). We hope and pray that the ultimate Light will shine in the dark places of our lives during this Advent Season.
Not only do we pray for hope, but we also pray for peace. This Sunday, we will light the second Advent Candle – The Candle of Peace. This candle reminds us of the peace we have in Jesus. This is the kind of peace that allows us to trust in God’s promises through restful, tranquil faith, despite the dark, scary world around us (Isaiah 40:1). We, therefore, pray for peace during this Advent Season as we reflect upon the prophecy of comfort and the accompanying hope of salvation through Jesus, our symbol of Peace (Mark 1:4, CEB).
Salvation is possible through the gift and love of Jesus Christ. This gift brings joy to our hearts. And so, on the third Sunday of Advent, we will light another candle - The Candle of Joy. How do we prepare ourselves to embrace and celebrate this gift of joy? Let us be reminded of the relationship between the Word and God. The Word functions in creation. The Word becomes flesh and dwells among us (John 1:1-8, 19-28, CEB). During this Advent Season, we must thank God for the Word because it is through the love of God that we experience such joy.
Through the Word of God that brings us joy, we can experience peace. On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we will light a fourth candle – The Candle of Peace. Peace is expressed in God’s plans for us. Whereas John the Baptist came to prepare the way (people), Jesus will lead the way (people). John’s mission was temporary, but Jesus’ kingdom will have no end (Isaiah 40:1-11). To us, the above are reasons to have peace in the midst of our human-made obstacles.
In preparation for God’s coming kingdom, God overturned many human-made obstacles, biases, and prejudices of the time – Mary was youthful at a time when the world revered age. Mary was a woman in a society that was dominated by men. Mary was poor at a time when wealth was the measure of success (Luke 1:26-38). When we look at our world today, where can we find the courage and strength to free ourselves from the human-made obstacles, biases, and prejudices of our time and still have peace? Do we feel Lost Under the Bright Lights of the things of the day?
We may feel that we are not making the big news headlines? But each day you are making headlines through your work in your ministry setting. Through Charge Conference, we can bear witness to many glimpses of God’s grace through your witness to God’s people. And while these may not make the daily headline news, they certainly make the headline news for Christ because you are fulfilling the gospel (Matthew 25:35-40, CEB).
We invite you to continue to believe that together we can find the courage and strength in Jesus because on Christmas Sunday, we will light a candle – The Christ Candle, that reminds us of the light Jesus brings to the world. This light can free us from despair, darkness, and chaos. This light can free us from human-made obstacles, biases, and prejudices. This light is The Light. So, let us not get Lost Under the bright lights of the world and bury our heads in the hand that life has dealt to us. Rather, let us approach this Advent Season with optimism and as a resurrection community of believers, knowing that we can rise above our adversity. Happy Advent.
Blessings to you!