The Advent season is one of these times in the church that is nestled snugly between to major cultural holidays. Thanksgiving, with its American heritage identity and romanticism, and the cultural phenomenon of the retail event we often call "Christmas" surround and sometimes envelop Advent. I've even seen "advent" calendars made out of Lego bricks, or mini whiskey bottles! It seems that consumer culture has moved its eyes to Advent, turning it from the season of anticipation of Jesus' birth - spanning 4 Sundays, each with a specific and intentional theme - toward a simple (and meaningless) countdown to Christmas.
But Advent is much more than that. It is about purposeful anticipation and longing. It is about reflection on the themes of Peace, Hope, Joy and Love - and how the newborn Messiah will fulfill those expectations. So this Advent season, as you anticipate the arrival of Emmanuel - God with us - be mindful of those themes and how they are born anew in your life. Where do you see God's Peace? How have you witnessed Advent Hope? Where is Joy abounding in the world? What Love is known to you and through you?
I trust this season will be more than a countdown for you; and I expect that the advent of Jesus will fill your life with renewed zeal and excitement for the Lord.
-Rev. Andy Beck