Advent. A truly exciting season that anticipates a “coming” or “arrival”. First, it ushers in a season of preparation for the commemoration of the birth of Jesus, an event so central in the lives of believers. Second, it underscores waiting for the second coming of Jesus, a paramount event prophesied in Scripture and which many look forward to with great longing — Jesus, the Messiah, coming back to earth in full glory to rule a thousand years along with the chosen faithful.
Significantly, Advent is a compelling reminder that there is hope — hope that many are so needy of and ardent for. In today’s world, challenges to faith and reason lurk in dire circumstances. The blight of the pandemic to the economy and specifically, to people’s livelihood, is outmatched by the fear of losing loved ones to the mysterious virus that has drastically changed lives and the norms of living. In the broil is the clamor for social reform accented by the cries of the hurting poor, disadvantaged and marginalized. Anxiety and fear of the uncertain become the norm, and as to be expected, discontent and unhappiness creep in. This is not what the Lord wants for us, this I believe. Light shines at the end of the spiral. So then, comes Advent. Yes, Advent is here — hope overpowering the strain and weariness of dark circumstances. Hope abundant in the mercy of a very loving and compassionate God.
As I was reflecting on Advent last Sunday (the first of four Sundays of Advent), my attention was caught by pictures posted on Facebook by my son-in-law Matt and my daughter Joy – lovely and captivating scenes evocative of God’s power in the beauty of His creation. All for our enjoyment. All for our pleasure. These pictures are shared below.
Westward beach in Los Angeles (photos by Matt Rosenburg)
All around and everywhere, there seems to be a mad anticipation for the holidays. Soon after Thanksgiving, the carols start pouring in, Christmas trees begin to be in great demand, lights pop up outside many homes, greetings abound on social media. The frenzy to prepare and celebrate rises to a rollicking flurry, and that, if not for anything else, brings back the smiles and the laughter. I’ve seen these in zoom meetings with family members and friends. Conversations are packed with plans for celebratory events, virtual gatherings in the friendly clutch of digital technology. There is unbridled eagerness for the holidays, regardless of restrictions that confine gatherings to one’s own household due to the pandemic.
I personally have committed to zoom parties, and happily look forward to lively chats. In the plan for these meetings are sing-alongs of carols over the airwaves with friends oceans away (from the Philippines, US, Canada). I enjoy a network of high school classmates of decades ago, baby boomers scattered in different cities, different states, different countries, all raring to celebrate Christmas and New Year in the fashion of the “new norm”. I am so appreciative of this group that has a big heart. Months ago, this group gathered resources to bring food to the needy in the barrios on the outskirts of Naga City (Philippines). Recently, the batch partnered with the Medical Society of the province to offer relief goods to typhoon victims in the communities. Next week, with the help of members’ donations, food, slippers and blankets will be delivered to children of poor families, instead of just treating them for lunch at a restaurant as a Christmas cheer, which was annually done in previous years. These are very meaningful ways of celebrating the joyful season – and ways of preparing the hearts in the spirit of Advent.
Advent in the new norm. Despite of and through all the rigors, we have hope. And we proclaim this hope. Bring out the lights and the décor. Hang up the festive colors. Trim the tree with sparkles. Sing the carols with gusto. Dance to the beat of the drums and cymbals. Send out the lively greetings through letters, cards or phone calls, or use social media and spread the “good news” – Advent is here! Time to celebrate.
And as I often espouse in many of my blogs – see and reach for the blessings of God because they are all around – enjoy them and be thankful.