Bring Some Light into the Darkness this Advent
Advent is still a few weeks away, but it is on my mind because in my congregation we are once again planning to make Advent wreaths on Sunday, December 2. Each Sunday of Advent we light another candle as a reminder that “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness didn’t overcome it” (John 1:5). We remember that the light came into the world in Jesus and that light can never be extinguished. But we also remember that every time we love someone, we bring that same light into the world and are reminded that the darkness doesn’t have the last word. The light of such love fills us with hope that in the end love will win the battle with all the forces of darkness.
As we make our Advent wreaths, we will be encouraging people to find creative ways to bring some light into the darkness during Advent. When my children were young, one Advent our doorbell would ring every evening, and when we opened the door there would be a small gift left on the doorstep. The gift givers were always long since gone. Each day we were once again surprised by what arrived and filled with delight that someone was doing this for us. On Christmas eve, the family that provided these daily gifts gave us the last gift in person at one of the Christmas eve services. Even now I get choked up thinking about it.
We are all sustained by daily gifts of love. How could we make this a practice during Advent? Surprise gifts left on someone’s doorstep is probably not realistic for most of us. But what about doing something like that each Sunday of Advent? Is there someone in your neighborhood who is going through a difficult time? Someone who is increasingly isolated by physical limitations? Someone who has lost a spouse? Or, forget the surprise aspect, simply ring the doorbell and give them some fresh cookies, and wish them a hope-filled Advent. What about taking some doughnuts to the local fire department and thanking them for their service to the community? What about a gift for a school teacher who had a big impact on one of your children years ago?
Advent hope comes from the awareness that love really is stronger than hate and neglect. Love has an extraordinary capacity to transform any situation. We all know this from our own experience. We have all had days where we have been assaulted by criticism, failure and hurtful comments. At the end of such days, we are burdened and the whole thing seems hopeless. But all it takes is one person reaching out to us and caring about us to cast out all the preceding darkness.
Bring some light into the world this Advent; it will make all the difference.