‘God is faithful’
1 Corinthians 1 v 9
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and until last year I didn’t know that it is sometimes called the Sunday of Hope. It is the beginning of the time when we prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas.
I grew up in a family with a strong advent tradition. My parents hated the materialism of Christmas and sought to find the meaning and the mystery, away from the presents and over-indulgence, and so they took time to mark the advent season.
I loved it. Every Sunday evening we would light one more candle on our advent wreath and sit in the dark watching the flickering lights, which grew stronger every week as another candle was lit. My father would read the old testament prophecies about the promised Messiah. I had a sense of wonder and mystery, and as a child I knew that I was being told the great story, which fully unfolds outside of our realm, but at one point in history stepped into out world.
As an adult I continued to observe Advent, and brought the traditions to my family – until last year. Last year was the first year ever that I made no attempt to observe Advent. I didn’t make a wreath. I didn’t light candles. I didn’t read the prophecies. I think I believed myself at that time to be so far outside the love of God that caring about Advent would somehow be dishonest. I’d be the unwanted interloper at the party.
If you’ve read my 31 day series, or earlier entries, you will know why I thought those things. I was in love with someone who wasn’t my husband, and I wanted my marriage to end.
But on that first Sunday of Advent my friend told me to hold on to hope. Those words were to change everything for me. The verse I began this post with is one of the lectionary readings for today. It gives us the reason we can have hope.
God is faithful. He keeps his promises.
Advent is a time for reflecting on the promises God made about the rescue He was going to bring about through Jesus. I knew about that rescue and I made a choice to become a follower of Jesus as a child, but in this past year – I have known rescue.
Today I will sit in the dark with my husband and children, with the wreath that we have made together. We will light the first candle and read the verses, and I will get butterflies in my stomach at the excitement and the mystery of the great story.
And I will know that I am part of that story. I have been rescued. I am loved.
Advent is about celebrating the plan to rescue me and you.
It is the story of Hope.