Note: The following post originally appeared on Duggan’s blog Monday, Dec. 2.
Yesterday, we began the celebration of Advent at our church. Hopefully, this year’s celebration will be a little less eventful than last year. One week, while I was preaching, the wax-dripping Advent candle set fire to the artificial greenery surrounding it. Thankfully, one of our men sitting near the front moved quickly to extinguish the blaze. Well, “quickly” and “blaze” may both be an exaggeration.
I was happy for at least two things. I was happy to be able to say that at least for a few seconds our church was on fire. Moreover, I was happy that the flame did not catch the attention of the smoke detector. Had that happened, our sprinkler system would have deployed and everyone in attendance would’ve suddenly been Methodist by baptism.
The significance of Advent
Candles are a central part of the Advent celebration. John 1 reminds us that with Jesus, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world“ (John 1:9). He also reminds us that this True Light overwhelms and penetrates that darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
Advent is also a reminder to us that God has come near. The angel told Joseph that Mary’s child would be called Immanuel – “God is with us.” The writer of Hebrews said that throughout history God has spoken in many different ways. But now God has spoken through His Son Jesus, whom He sent into the world.
Other religions try to show man how to get to God, but in Christ, the True God came to man. Different faiths feature representatives to speak on behalf of their god. Even our God spoke through prophets and teachers. But the Advent reminds us that GOD HAS COME NEAR.
Light illuminates. The darkness of evil and ignorance that surrounds our culture need now more than ever the Advent Light.
Light warms. More people than ever live with calloused, cold hearts. Life seems to have turned many skeptical and bitter. Our cold hearted culture needs now more than ever the Advent Light.
Light heals. Surgeons use the focused energy of laser light to perform delicate operations. The laser is able to reach places conventional surgery could never touch. Many carry hurts today that counselors cannot heal, money cannot solve, and drugs, alcohol, and other destructive behaviors cannot anesthetize.
Our hurting culture needs now more than ever the Advent Light.
Light a fire in your heart
Beyond the formality of an Advent celebration, take the time this season to light the candle in your heart. God has come near.
Let the presence of Jesus encourage you. He sees, He knows, He loves, and He will act on your behalf.
Let the words of Jesus illuminate your understanding. Read His Word and seek to live by it. It will be food for your soul. Even heartier than Chicken Soup.
Let the power of Jesus transform you. Surrender your life to Him. Seek to follow Him with every part of your life. He will take you places you never thought you could go. He will make you the person you never thought you could be.
Shine, Jesus, shine. Fill this land – and especially my heart – with the Father’s Glory.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14