Maybe it’s how nice the weather has been lately, or maybe it’s just that I am getting older, but it is hard to believe that November has drawn to its end and December is here. This brings us to the season of Advent. I am drawn to Luke’s Gospel, not to chapter 1, but to chapter 21. It is an alarming one—full of violent images and ominous predictions. It is not one I would usually pick to kick off this holy season of quiet waiting; it seems like a very harsh beginning. I would rather avoid the uncomfortable realities represented here and make a gentler transition from Thanksgiving to
Christmas. But the truth is, the scenario described in Luke 21 is much closer to real life than the dreamy images we often associate with the Christmas season. News reports are filled with images of the unresolved tensions of clashing nations, violent interpersonal political conflicts, The tragedy of bus crashes, and lives taken. the foreboding that goes along with an economic recession. At a personal level, we are plagued by confusion about conflicts we can’t resolve and friends and loved ones who have died. Stress over our jobs, distress about our failures and the failures of others, and questions that cause us to doubt the very Gospel message we preach.
On second thought, perhaps this passage is exactly where we need to be. It helps us to be honest about our lives and those places that are full of confusion and distress, fear and foreboding. It tells us that in the most distressing and
violent places our mind takes us we are to wait for the Son of Man to come into our lives with the power to heal and glory to illuminate our darkness. As followers of Christ, these are the very places where we must call others to wait on God as well—the places where they feel most threatened, most disturbed, and most confused.
As Christians, part of our sanctification is learning how to wait for God in the darkest moments of his/her distress and confusion. Only a person who has experienced God’s deliverance in their own lives can ask others to do the same. In a world where the first inclination is to act immediately, Advent invites us into a great reversal.
During this season we are encouraged to just wait be on guard, to be awake, to refuse to be so caught up in everything around us that we fail to recognize the nearness of Christ in that very place that feels desolate, confusing, and beyond hope. It is a time to raise our heads, lift our eyes, and watch for our redemption as it draws near.
Advent is a good time to notice the challenges and the places of hardness in our lives, those places where we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if the Son of Man does not come, there is no hope. These are the places that defy human answers and where the people around us may even be starting to panic. We might need to be more honest in acknowledging our own distress and confusion, and fear. And we must be willing to ask, “Is it possible that this hard-to-acknowledge place is the very place in which God is calling me and I have to be still and wait for his deliverance?
We must assume an attitude of waiting, accepting the fact that we are creatures and not the creator. We must do this because it is not our right to do anything else.
I encourage you to recognize this important season of Advent. Do not rush into Christmas. There will be plenty of time to celebrate that later. Take this time to allow God to work on those areas of your life that you keep the most hidden. Let Him shine into any darkness of fear and bitterness. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2Corinthians 4:6
On behalf of the Elders and our wives, we want to wish you a holy, blessed, and Merry Christmas.
Elder Stan Davala