advent - what the world needs now
The season of Advent began November 28th. As a part of our Advent tradition we light a candle each week on the Advent wreath symbolizing the qualities of: hope, love, joy, and peace. On Christmas Eve we will light the white center candle - a symbol of the presence of Christ who is the "light of the world." As we continue through the season of Advent I've been struck by the fact that perhaps there has never been a time when the qualities these candles represent are more needed in our world and in our personal lives as well...
What I find today is that many are struggling with issues that the qualities of Advent fight against. Advent is a time for Hope, but today I find many struggling with a sense of discouragement and despair. Advent is a time for Love, but there seems to be so much anger in our world. We read about it every day: acts of "road rage," "family violence," "school shootings." The list goes on and on! Advent is a time for Joy but therapist friends I visit with tell me they are seeing a significant uptick in presenting cases of depression. Advent is a time for Peace, but there are many who are dealing with growing anxiety in their life. In short, Advent is a time for Light, but there seem to be many who are walking in darkness. Though it seemed to "sneak up" on us rather quickly this year, I for one am glad that Advent is here. Advent is truly what the world needs now.
Of course the message of Advent is that none of these qualities are present in our life as a by-product of our own efforts or choices. Certainly, there are choices we make and actions we take that greatly increase the likelihood of hope, love, joy, and peace residing in our heart. But the message of the Advent wreath is that for hope, love, joy, and peace to truly be a part of our day to day experience, Christ must be at the center. It is as we center our life in Him that the "darkness" of our life gives way to the light that Jesus brings.
Do you find that you are presently struggling with disappear, anger, depression, and/or anxiety? Does it feel like you have been "walking in darkness" and can't seem to find the "light of day?" Then I would say, stop looking for the light of day, and begin looking for the light of Christ. When you find Him, hope, love, joy, and peace will reign once again.
May God bless us all as we continue in our Advent journey. Advent has come at just the right time and it is what we, and the world, truly need right now.
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Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.