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Advent Is the Time of Joy

December 1, 2017 by

Refugee mother and children
Rohingya refugees.
photo credit: Tasnim News Agency.

This Sunday in churches across the world, Christians will gather to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, marking the beginning of the Christmas season.

Advent calls us to attentiveness. Every year it is a call to wake up, lest we sleep through the critical hour when God’s kingdom breaks in and the Messiah returns.

Advent is a time to ask ourselves: Do we have the peace and joy that Jesus offers? And if not, what do we need to do to find it, so that we can truly be ready to celebrate Christmas?

Remembering the Roman world into which Jesus was born reminds me of the dire situation in our own world. The tensions on the Korean peninsula are troubling, with escalating rhetoric on all sides. Germany, long considered a stable global power, is facing political turmoil with ascendant right-wing forces. The United Kingdom continues to grapple with the fallout of Brexit. In Australia, the passage of a referendum to redefine marriage has sparked fierce debate. The plight of over half a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the war and famine in Yemen are other examples of a world in crisis. At the same time, the daily headlines of sexual harassment by men in positions of power are yet another sign of the darkness in our times and our need for redemption.

Unless we are awake and alert to the times we are living in and are ready to respond, we are in danger of missing out on the good news. We ought to be preparing our hearts as if this were the last great Christmas, when Jesus returns to set all things right, because, as Jesus himself said, none of us knows the day or the hour.

christmas candles

There is no reason for this to make us depressed or discouraged. Advent is a time of joy! Light a candle, bring a food basket to your neighbor, sing carols with friends – if you are a messenger of joy for someone else, your own day will become brighter.

Advent reminds of our need for Jesus, the light of the world. As the prophet Isaiah foretold, “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isa. 9:2).

In an Advent sermon in 1933, the year Hitler took power, Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached on Luke 21:28: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Look up, you whose eyes are fixed on this earth, you who are captivated by little events and changes . . . who have turned away from heaven in disappointment. Look up, your redemption is drawing near! . . . Lift your heads, take courage, be strong! This is no time for shaking your heads or doubting, because God is coming – Jesus is coming!

This Advent, let us take hold of this faith and hope in the return of Jesus and let us prepare our homes and hearts for the child in the manger and the coming king of the world.

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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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  • How wonderfully positive – shining as a light in these dark days. Christ is Coming.

    Jacquie Watson