A week of hope – Advent I

The waiting begins.

This first week of Advent might be focusing on “Hope” in your church. Different churches use different themes throughout the season of Advent. My first encounter with an Advent wreath labeled the four weekly candles as Prophets, Angels, Mary, Shepherds, so I thought these were The Official Advent Themes Which May Not Be Altered. Boy, was I wrong.

When some Protestant churches switched from three purple candles and one pink to four blue, I protested that this was just one more way to make churches invest in new paraments (those lovely tapestries that drape the sanctuary in symbols and colors of the liturgical year), spending money they didn’t have. Spending money on decorations instead of ministry. Boy, was I wrong.

But, let’s get back to hope. And to waiting. Have you ever considered how long the nation of Israel waited in hope for a Messiah? By the time angels started appearing to Mary and the shepherds, there had been no prophetic word in Israel for over 400 years. Yet, they waited, and they hoped.

They waited through the silence. They hoped in a promise that had been spoken centuries – centuries – before, a promise that had faded to a faint whisper by the time of its fulfillment, but a promise nonetheless. They waited. They hoped. And when the fulfillment of that promise appeared in their midst, many of them didn’t even recognize him. They thought Jesus couldn’t possibly be Messiah. Boy, were they wrong.

What are you waiting for, this Advent? What hopes whisper in your heart? What is keeping you from seeing God’s promise fulfilled in your life?

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