Advent is one of the worship seasons of the church year. It is a time of spiritual preparation for the joy of Messiah’s birth at Christmas. Like Lent, Advent is an occasion for introspection and prayer—although our culture has made Advent indistinguishable from Christmas holidays.
Advent, at least in one significant way, celebrates and teaches believers the meaning of “why” God sends the world a Messiah. Unless we learn from God the divine purpose of creation, which is to “till and keep God’s garden,” (Genesis 2:15) then a perpetual battle for national pride, land, and natural resources persists. Yet, Isaiah’s prophetic vision of “swords into plowshares” and “spears into pruning hooks” triggers our memories, faint as they may be, regarding God’s intention at creation. God created people to live in a community based on mutual respect and peace—a community that is bent on feeding its members from the least to the greatest. Faithful stewards preserve this teaching of the Lord. The First Advent raised a promise that when the Messiah comes, God brings the divine intention for God’s people to fruition.
Washington Irving once wrote: “Great minds have purposes; others have wishes.” This insight leads to the realization that without expectancy, we lack purpose. Achievers, in particular, exhibit this attitude of expectancy. We see this attitude most forcefully in the way achievers minimize their losses. They do not grieve over failures or what might have been. Rather, achievers look around the corner in anticipation of the good things that await. All these achievers have to do is show the determination to get there. The accomplisher rejects the notion of “can’t.”
As a result, this kind of person is able to open more doors than others, strike better deals, and attract more energetic and resourceful people to work with them. The achiever sets higher standards and gets others to help meet them. The achiever wins confidence and nurtures vitality in others. This kind of person expects to succeed. When combined with desire, expectancy produces hope—and hope makes all things possible. Living the expectant life is simply an act of good judgment.
The Apostle Paul says, “ . . . we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:3 5).
When God arms Christians with good judgment and with hope, the world looks a lot less intimidating. Advent is the Christian season that reminds us that hope springs eternal with God. As God sends us Messiah, God also sends us the hope that does not disappoint. This is a result of God’s grace and our faithful belief in the promises of God. Why not try to practice some good ’ol fashioned hope-filled expectation this Advent as we come home to FUMC of Arlington for Christmas . . . .
PS. Don’t forget the La Posada Family Advent Festival that will take place on the 30th of November this year at 6:00 pm in the Great Hall. Contact Rachel Patman for more information.