I don’t know if you notice but everybody seems super mad about everything all the time. I’m a glass half full girl and I try to stay optimistic but I have to admit this year is a little more difficult. Nothing seems right, normal or usual maybe that’s the problem. What is it that we are looking for and where can we find it.
We are in Advent season, the four weeks leading up to Christmas where we prepare for the arrival of Jesus. Immanuel, God with us, that is exactly what Immanuel means God with us. Maybe that is where we need to start.
The Christian tradition of the advent wreath is a popular one. Every Sunday we celebrate a gift as we light each candle and I think this year we need to stop and pay attention to each moment. If we change our focus maybe, we can change the view and attitude.
The first candle is Hope! Hope is to trust in, wait for and look for something in the future. Biblical hope is more, it not only desires something good for the future it expects it to happen. And hope not only expects it to happen but is confident it will happen! In such a time as 2020 we can confidently say Jesus is our hope and with our hope in Him we must then proclaim it to the world. Our hope is alive. That He loves and cares for us and there is a place for us with Him forever. Let us change our view to see that hope is resting in the victory of Jesus.
The second candle is Peace! Peace is the absence of external and internal strife. Biblical peace is more; it is not related to circumstances. You can be in the middle of difficulties and still have biblical peace. Peace is an action as we conform our minds to Christ and then reach out to others. We are all called by God to be peacemakers in a deeply divided world. Peace doesn’t just change you and me it is a gift to all. Let us change our view to seek harmony and justice in our communities.
The third candle is Joy! Joy is happiness over circumstances. Biblical Joy is more; it is the assurance of God with us. One important factor of joy, rather than happiness, is that joy endures forever. We can be confident that even in our lowest times we can still find joy when we abide in Christ. To have joy shine from deep within us; we have to tie ourselves to the source. And the source is Christ Himself. Let us change our view from things that won’t give us joy, to Christ. He is the only one that can give true joy.
The last of the candles in the circle is Love! Love is an intense feeling of deep affection; and is mostly about feelings. Biblical love is more; it is sacrificial, a love that gives first and expects nothing in return. God is love and has demonstrated that love, in everything He does. Jesus tells us in scripture that love is the most important command to obey. Let us change our view of worldly love, to sharing Christ’s love in our community.
Focusing on Immanuel, God with us, in this advent season helps us to change our view of what is going on in the world. If we do that, we will be filled with hope, peace, joy, and love ultimately changing our attitude. Whether your glass is half full, like mine, or half empty; may I share with you all can be found in Jesus. He can fill you up. The love of Jesus reminds me that we are all refillable.
I pray that you and your family are safe, healthy and blessed in this Christmas season. May you find Hope, Peace, Joy and Love even in 2020!
The writer is the associate pastor at Sidney First United Methodist Church in Sidney.