WEDNESDAY — HOPE
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE ADVENT WREATH1
The circle of the Advent wreath is an endless loop and reminds us of the eternal and endless love of God. Remember back to the very beginning of our story with God. In the beginning, God created all things in heaven and on earth. God created man and woman in His image. God gave man and woman the task to care for the world.
They lived in the goodness of God’s creation with only one rule. They were told not to eat from one tree. They decided to break God’s rule, and that is when sin and death entered the world.
Now we wait and hope in God, whose love is endless. Sin and death are a part of our world, but we also know that God’s endless love has and will defeat them. So we wait in hope for the Light of God to come.
Light the Advent Candle Gospel Reading: Matt. 21:23-32
HOPE IN THE INVITATION
In today’s gospel passage, we find a good reminder that not all who look on our actions will find them meaningful. As we go about this season leading up to Christmas, we as Christians do some unusual things as far as the rest of the world is concerned. We give, not just to our own kids and families, but to strangers, sometimes even strangers who live somewhere else in the world. We also show up on doorsteps and sing songs to strangers. Most of the people in our culture are familiar with the ritual of caroling, but some may still not welcome it. We also do strange things like reenacting the birth of a poor baby who was born 2,000 years ago. Not only do we reenact His birth, but we sing songs to Him. And we read this book, the Bible, and we light candles and pray together.
Jesus was doing many similar things in this time in His life – not because it was the Advent season, but because He was Jesus, and He showed us that we were made for many of these same things. We give to others because He gave to others. We offer up songs of praise because He taught us the importance of praising and honoring our Father in heaven.We pray and read the Bible because He did as well, and because we want to know more about His story so that when it comes to the point that onlookers of our lives begin to ask why we do what we do, we can tell them about the Lord who did them first. We do these things so that as we encounter hurting people in our world and find ourselves unable to heal them by our own power and take away their pain, we can point them to the God who heals.
In this scripture, we see Jesus confronted by people who did not want what He had to offer. They were offended and threatened by the hope He offered because it took away their power as the keepers of all hope for a better life. Jesus was going around offering this hope of healing and full life to anyone that would hear (even prostitutes and tax collectors!) and they are the ones who received it!
This should be a reminder and a challenge to us as we practice embodying hope to our community and explaining why we’re doing these things to those who wonder, that we should not withhold this message of hope from anyone who finds it meaningful. Rather, we should invite them into the story of God and the beautiful hope that it entails – no matter who they are. Jesus offered an open invitation. We should too.
The King shall come when morning dawns and light and beauty ring. Hail, Christ the Lord! Your people pray, come quickly, King of kings.3
1) Taken from Paul Sheneman, Illuminate: an Advent Experience. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill of Kansas City, 2011. Print.
3) Adapted from “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns” (1907), author unknown, trans. John Brownlie, Cyber Hymnal, http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/k/l/kingcome.htm.