Hoping for a happy Advent

Duane Goerzen, pastor at Maple Ridge Community Church, writes the Acts of Faith column this week

  • Dec. 3, 2011 7:00 p.m.

Does anyone really know, understand, or care anymore about?

Most people’s connection to Advent is a cardboard calendar you stick on your fridge for your kids to countdown the days to Christmas by opening up that calendar day and getting a chocolate.

What is Advent, what does it have to do with Christmas, and why should we care about it?

The word “advent” actually means coming. In the tradition of the Christian church, the Advent season covers the four Sundays before Christmas Day, and the intention is to have a few weeks of focused preparation in anticipating the celebration of Jesus coming to earth. That may be too simplistic for the Advent purist, but hopefully it provides a grid for the rest of us that have wondered.

In the midst of all that is on our plates (over the next four weeks, my hope is to encourage people  to do some heart preparation for Christmas.

Hope is something strongly woven through the fabric of this season:

“I hope I get my shopping done on time.”

“I hope I get an iPhone.”

“I hope it snows.”

“I hope everyone can make it to the family gathering.”

“I hope my turkey turns out.”

“I hope Christmas is as good this year as it was last year.”

Hope is one of those words that means many things to different people.  My good friend and colleague Jonathan Headley shared some thoughts recently and quoted this old French proverb: “Hope is the dream of a soul awake.”

This is where things shift from the surface down into the heart. Do you live as one whose soul is truly awake? Do you live with hope?

I meet far too many people who have no hope. So many of the things they have built their lives around crumbled before them and have left them confused and in despair.

The Bible says that “hope deferred makes the heart grow sick.”

What we put our hope into matters. Too often our life is like buying a lottery ticket – maybe this time we will hit the jackpot, but more than likely we will wake up once again to our all-too-familiar unfulfilled wishes and dreams.

The Bible verse quoted above ends this way: “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).

In getting past the lights, wrapping paper, parties, feasting, decorations and shopping, we find the story of Jesus coming to earth as a baby – ultimately coming to provide hope.

If you are in need of hope, stop looking to all those things which continue to leave you wanting. The old definition of insanity is doing the same things you have always done, and expecting different results.

Jesus came to earth as part of God’s grand eternal plan. He saw all of our brokenness and futile efforts to find hope apart from him. He literally gave His life as a sacrifice on our behalf in order to provide each of us with an opportunity to gain life – to recover hope. Hope begins though faith in Jesus Christ.

If you find yourself without hope this Christmas, read the original Christmas story – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and discover the real meaning and purpose for your life.

 

Duane Goerzen is pastor at Maple Ridge Community Church.

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