Commentary by Michael VandenBerg
The church year is different than our calendar year. Within the Christian Church, Nov. 29 (four Sundays before Christmas) marks the beginning of the new church year with the Season of Advent. Advent is a special time of the year when with Christians around the world we look forward to Jesus coming again. It is different than Christmas or the current celebration of Jesus, the Christ birth. Advent is the season of anticipation of Jesus’ promised coming again. It is the culmination of all of history into one dramatic moment that brings with it hope for the world.
Advent traditionally has turned the focus of the followers of Christ to the Biblical themes of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. I am sure that it even though no one can say for sure when Jesus was born, one of the reasons for choosing to celebrate this monumental occasion was that in the midst of all the darkness of winter, in the despair of the appearance of a dead or dying world, comes the light of life and the hope of the world.
As surely as a lack of food and water will kill life, so does a lack of hope. Without hope, people despair and give up on life. Without true hope, people begin to lose the will to live and cease to thrive. God brought hope back into a broken and dying world through the gift of his son. This son brought hope by paying the price for our sinfulness, offering the solution to life’s brokenness and by showing the world that even while we were imperfect and defiant, God still loved us and has not given up on our world.
Advent then celebrates the renewal of God’s promise that all who give their lives over to the Jesus cure for sin would not perish but have everlasting life.
When I was growing up, I remember waiting and watching out the front window for my grandparents to arrive at Christmas. With each passing moment my anticipation became even greater and almost unbearable. Then, while standing on tiptoes, I would see them arrive and the excitement became uncontainable. For me, this is Advent. It is the standing on tiptoes, waiting in expectation for Jesus to arrive again and make everything once again come alive. If you are a follower of Christ, then enjoy the hope of this Advent. If you are not a follower, then I will pray that you find a church, a community of believers and discover that gift of life giving hope.