Yesterday started Advent, the four weeks before Christmas that anticipates the coming of Christ – past, present, and future. Often churches use the theme of “hope” for this week because prophecy gives hope to the past, the present and the future. The past was not random but predicted. The present is known and we are not alone . And the future will have the downs and ups but there is a God who travels with us.
Yesterday was the first Sunday of the church year. The slate is clean and we are starting to go through the Jesus story again and pondering from a new perspective. Who is this God we worship? We will look through the eyes of Luke this year. Often if you read the introductions to books, the author will summarize in about one sentence their purpose in writing the book and the message they hope the book presents. Luke, the author, was not an apostle but a doctor who is writing a research paper summarizing “an orderly account” for his friend Theophilis. Some theorize that “theo” meant “god” as in the word theology and “philis or filio” refers to “brother” as in fraternity. So he may be writing to a brother in faith an orderly account of the events unfolding around the reports of the life of Christ, first hand research with people who were there at the events as they unfolded. This is CNN before CNN came to be! Remember there was no Bible at that time. Luke wanted Theophilis to have certainty about what he had been taught.
As we step into this Advent season, I think it is good to stop for a moment and reflect on what is our goal, our purpose. What drives us as we go through this season? Is my goal to impress, to entertain, to inform, or how am I through my actions and words bringing hope to the life of another? Gifts need not be material “things” that please. I’ve tried sending my grandchildren pictures of their father at their age with an affirmation. A kind word or a phone call or a gift of cookies can also be encouraging.
Hope helps me feel that I am not alone. The Christmas story we share this season is an account of how we are united in God as family. That gives hope. Knowing my beliefs that rule my life are valued is also important. “You are valued! You are kind. You hold potential for the future!” are wonderful gift words to receive. What would you like to hear this Christmas? What account would encourage you as you face the future? May you give and receive an affirmation today!