Thus, It Begins

2 Dec

“Symbolizing eternal hope, the wreath goes ’round and ’round, and where it starts or ends cannot be found. Woven of things that grow — for life — and hung for holiday delight, the wreath must be left in place from Advent through Twelfth Night.”  ~ Unknown

This is the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent,  a time of serious preparation for Christmas.  It is a time filled with wonder and mystery and, for many, is one of the more “magical” times of the year.  There is something about snow and Christmas trees and garland and tinsel that lightens the hearts of many.  That is not a bad thing at all.  Let the season speak to you.

The Advent wreath reminds us of the passage of time throughout the season.  It marks out the four weeks by the placement of four candles.  Today, as we light the first purple candle of the wreath, we begin our consideration of the season.  The first week of Advent has often been associated with the theological virtue of hope.

Hope is something that we cannot live without.  Studies have been done through the years in which lab animals were shocked at random times. Some were given a way to stop the shocks and others were forced to submit with no way to stop them.  After a period of time, the animals who could not escape the shock developed a learned helplessness.  In short, they gave up.  They no longer looked for any way out of their situation and, apparently, felt that they were going to have to endure whatever came their way because they were powerless to stop it.

That is a brief explanation of God’s people in the Old Testament.  For generations, they had no hope.  They felt that they had to submit to whatever came their way because they were powerless to stop it.  They had heard about a promised Savior; but, those stories were told so long ago that many no longer took much stock in them.  They may have repeated the stories but halfheartedly, feeling like their lives were never going to change for the better.

There are times we act the same way.  We may have been doing the same thing over and over again because, quite frankly, we have given up looking for a way to change.  In doing so, we quit looking for help. But, help is in the Promised One whose birth we prepare to celebrate in twenty-five days.  In Jesus, there is great hope!

FAITH ACTION:  Bring to mind the times that you have felt hopeless and have found that the Lord led you through your hopelessness to resolution.