What is Advent
The season of Advent is upon us, friends. For some of you, this season that starts the beginning of the Church year may be new to you. We Baptists tend to do what we want, and so not everyone knows that in the Church, the new year begins with the first Sunday of Advent.
In our Godly Play classroom, we say that it is now time for the color purple. We use the color purple during this time because purple is a serious color in the Church, and we are entering a serious time. Purple is also used for royalty, and so we use this color because a King is coming- but not the type of King you expect.
And this is a great Mystery – the Mystery of Christmas.
The Church decided a long time ago that we needed to take time to get ready to come close to a mystery as big as Christmas, so they set aside four weeks for the Church to prepare for the mystery of Christmas. We call this time Advent.
Advent and Hope
“In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).
This is one of my favorite verses in the Gospels. The image of a light bursting on to the scene in a dark world that is hungry for light. On the first Sunday in Advent, we light the candle of hope. What a wonderful way to begin this season of preparing for Christmas!
This time of year, darkness seems to dominate our day; we wake up while it is still dark, we drive home from work in the dark; our days may not consist of as much light from the sun as we would like.
And then… we light the candle of hope.
In a room of pitch darkness, it doesn’t take much light to bring a sense of hope and excitement to a room. In our Godly Play class, we have been working through the stories of Advent. For the candle of hope, we turn out the lights and sit in the darkness for a few moments. And then a match is struck, light flickers, and everything changes.
Maybe you’re in a place where hope just seems like it can’t be found. Maybe darkness has filled your life and you aren’t sure light will ever break through.
If you find yourself in this space, I want to encourage you to take some time and to literally light a candle and to sit with it and focus on it for a few minutes. You may not be in a place where hope seems realistic, but as you look at the candle, let it remind you that hope will be found again.
Hope shows up over and over again. May the candle be a reminder that the light will shine in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.
If you find yourself in a place filled with hope, take time to light a candle and sit in its glow, giving thanks and reflecting on what is bringing hope in your life. I encourage you to find ways to bring hope to others this Advent season.
Breathe in Hope
The last thing we do in Godly Play for our Advent stories is we turn the lights back on and extinguish the candles. As the flame dies and smoke swirls into the air, we encourage the children to breathe in the smell of the smoke. We tell them that the light has changed and is now spreading out into the room and filling each of us.
This Advent, may you be filled with the light of Hope! Whether it is something already carried with you or something that you need to be reminded of – know that the light of Christ is always present, even in the darkest of times.
Go in peace and hope, knowing that you are light of the world.
Kristen Koger is the Pastor for Children and Families at First Baptist Church of Decatur.