‘God is faithful’
1 Corinthians 1 v 9
Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, sometimes called the Sunday of Hope. It is the start of the Christian season of preparation 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 (although it’s worth noting that this year my Dad gave us a parachuting, singing, leg kicking snowman to hang across our room in mid-November, so maybe the times are changing!) .
As a child I loved Advent. 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 Dad 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 our world.
I’ve continued to celebrate Advent with my children, but it was only a few years ago, when life was particularly difficult, that a friend told me that the first Sunday of advent is the Sunday of Hope. She told me to hold on to hope – not as wishful thinking of things that might be, but of the great truth that hope is real and given to us through Jesus.
Those words were to change everything for me. I held on to Hope as my word for the following year, and it was transformative.
The verse I began this post with is one of the lectionary readings for the first Sunday of advent. 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 the past years – I have known rescue.
This year has been hard, and busy and good and exhausting, and the beginning of advent caught me unawares. As the littlest pointed out, we had no Advent candles or calendars. But we did light a candle as we ate our evening meal together. Because it matters.
Because I know that light shining in the darkness is for me. I am part of that story. I have been rescued. I am loved.
Advent celebrates the plan to rescue me and you.
It is the story of Hope. It’s my favourite story.