My church celebrates Advent with the lighting of a candle on the Advent wreath every Sunday. Each Sunday, a family stands up fron to lead us in God's Word. The children, rather than the parents, read out what the candle means.
The candle for the 2nd Sunday is the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. During Advent, we are preparing for the arrival of a child, and yet we rarely look at children as examples of preparation. As I reflect on how our church uses young children to prepare us for the Word, I’m struck by how powerfully children can teach us.
Children get ready for Christmas with excitement and awe. How we prepare for advent matters- are we running around trying to find the perfect present to please others, or are we sitting with the mystery and wonder of the birth of our King?
Our passage this week, a prophecy from the Old Testament, helps us to prepare for Jesus' arrival with exciment and awe. Read this passage several times; ponder the mystery and wonder.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
This passage talks about a miraculous child. One that would be a Wonderful Councelor and a Prince of Peace. This child would lead his kingdom with justice and righteousness. This child would be miraculous.But sometimes we get so caught up in the "hows" of these titles- how could a child bring justice? how could a child bring everlasting peace?- that we miss the miracle of Jesus' birth. I wonder if by trying so hard to define that miracle, we lose a bit of our faith.
I love Santa Clause, I always have. Christmas Eve, my sisters and I would sleep in the same bed, giggling and waiting with anticipation. I never questioned how Santa flew around the world or got to every home. We lived in the desert (Saudi Arabia to be exact), so we never had a chimney and I never questioned how Santa got into the house. But I did get excited for him every year. As a child, the mystery of Christmas led me to wait in anticipation.
While it’s important to study the mystery of Christ, I wonder if we are missing out on the awesome power of believing like a child. What if this Advent, we simply reflected on the mystery of the fact that a baby, born in poverty, will bring justice, peace, and love for all? What if we allowed that mystery to create so much excitement, that we could hardly stand it as we wait for him to come? What if we trusted "the zeal of the Lord" and had faith, without needing proof or explaining away the details, that Jesus Christ has come to rule the world with "justice & righteousness"?
God teach us to trust like children. Show us how to believe that your Son has come and will come again. Show us how to have faith like a child; prepare our hearts with awe. Let the awe of the season make the path straight for Jesus. Let the arrival of our king be anticipated by us with excitement and joy. Teach us to believe.
In your Holy Name.