This Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent season, a time
when many in the Christian faith start preparing for Christmas. Over the next
few episodes, I’ll be covering the four themes of Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy and
Love. Together, we’ll examine scriptures that illuminate who God is, why
he came and what he brings for us. I hope you’ll join me…
Have you ever visited the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico? I
did when I was much younger. The caverns are beautiful, massive underground
caves; some of which have never seen sunlight! Down there, if you turn off the
lights you’ll be thrown into absolute darkness. Imagine my surprise when the
Park Ranger did just that!
I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. As my eyes
tried to adjust, a wave of fear and anxiety built up inside me. I felt like I
would be stuck underground forever. Finally, the ranger turned on a flashlight
and pointed it at the rock ceiling. Even though it wasn’t much stronger than a
candle, the beam illuminated the entire cavern, chasing away the darkness. I
don’t have to tell you that as soon as I saw that light, my fear disappeared.
That experience reminded me of this passage in Isaiah 9:2: “The people walking in darkness have seen a
Isaiah lived in a time of war and uncertainty, when it
seemed like there was no hope for deliverance from invasion and occupation. It
doesn’t sound that different from our world today, does it? He used the imagery
of light and darkness to describe the feelings of the people of Israel, hoping
and yearning for deliverance.
covers the earth… but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you”
During the season of Advent, we try to remember what it must
have been like to hope for the Messiah. Six hundred years before the birth of
Christ, the prophet Zechariah wrote: “Rejoice
greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your
king is coming to you, righteous and having salvation is he…” (Zechariah 9:9,
These prophecies must have been like beams of light in a
time when darkness and sorrow plagued Israel. After experiencing the complete
blackout of the Carlsbad Caverns, I had a small taste of what hopelessness
would feel like. Thankfully, Zechariah’s prophecy was made flesh in the form of
Jesus Christ, the one who said: “I am
the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but
will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
As we begin our series and continue to move closer to
Christmas, I wanted to take a second to remind us what Advent actually means.
It’s the anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, which means “coming,”
as in “the Lord is coming.” In examining the theme of hope, we are reminded
that we have been brought out of darkness and now live in the light and hope of
Jesus Christ. And that’s something we can truly celebrate!