Following Jesus

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Following Jesus

Advent: Lighting the Darkest Corners

November 29, 2019 by

Hands shelter a candle flame

As November draws to a close, we enter Advent, a time of expectation for the arrival of the Lord. John the Baptist spoke of this arrival, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). Two millennia later, the kingdom of heaven must be just as near!

All around us we see the world being torn apart by divisive talk, protests and uprisings, and fear-mongering. While the headlines and talking heads on TV are consumed by the impeachment and the dishonesty and turmoil in government, the real issues of the day are forgotten. This Advent, are we paying attention to the millions of our fellow humans displaced by war and climate change, or the tens of thousands of homeless children in New York City alone? Are we forgetting the nameless and faceless poor of the earth for whom Jesus came to bring light, hope, and redemption? John’s challenge to the ruling class of his time was to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8). What are the fruits of repentance that we must produce? To lay down our lives for others, to forgive, to be honest, to love our neighbor.

John the Baptist traveled across Judea, calling his listeners to decision and action, preparing the way for Jesus by prophesying that Jesus himself would come to “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11). More than ever, we need the intervention of the Holy Spirit and the fire and light of Christ to awaken and ignite us. For Jesus said,“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) The light of Jesus shines in the many selfless deeds of love and sacrifice done by men, women, and children all around the world. So let us draw near to this light and add our flame. As Eberhard Arnold writes:

Just as a light on a candlestick gathers the household, so the city on the hill is the shining image of community – an organic unity in its economy and management, community of work, and faith and joy. The towers of a city on the hill can be seen far and wide – signs of civic freedom, tokens of the city communality, and symbols of fellowship in faith. Such a city is not built to be hidden, to have an isolated life for itself. Its open gates show the joy of hearts open to everyone (Salt and Light, Plough Publishing, 2011).

This Advent, join me in praying that this light of Jesus may be kindled in the darkest corners: from the halls of power in Washington, London, and Canberra to Venezuela, the Middle East, Ukraine, Hong Kong, and every other land. And may this light burn ever more brightly in my heart and your heart. This Advent and Christmas season will be truly meaningful if we open our hearts to the coming Prince of Peace. He will help us put our faith into action in our daily lives, and draw us nearer to the living God in whom we trust.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). God comes close to us, even when we feel far away. This Advent, let us draw near and enter the presence of his light.

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About the author

Paul Winter and his wife Betty

Paul Winter

Paul Winter serves as the Elder of the Bruderhof. He lives with his wife, Betty, at the Maple Ridge Bruderhof.

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