In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and darkness did not overcome it. – John 1:1-4

HOPE The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Advent, therefore, is celebrating the hope of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to the God the Father. This is a process in which we now participate and the fulfillment of which we anticipate. This double focus on past and future symbolizes the spiritual journey of both the individual and the community of faith as they affirm that Christ has come, He is present in the world today, and He will come again in power. We see in Jesus the beginning of God’s kingdom, and we hope for the day when it comes fully “on earth as it is in heaven.”

PEACE When we look around our world, too often we see chaos and the effects of evil that cause pain, fear, and suffering. Peace is what we long for. It is what we need personally, communally, and globally. Advent remains a season of expectation; a season of longing for God to restore all things; to set right the injustice and pain we see and experience; and bring everlasting peace to our world, our communities, our homes, and our hearts. We believe that Jesus is the true Prince of Peace, and we pray for God’s peaceful kingdom to emerge in and through us as we seek to faithfully love God and neighbor.

JOY This season invites us to experience the joy that comes to us through knowing Christ as our Lord, the One who forgives, heals, and restores to life. Because Christ has come to us, we have received a newfound joy in our lives. No longer do we need to live in fear of the past, the present, or the future, for light has come and filled our dark lives with the joy of knowing we are accepted and loved by God. The joy of Christ’s coming is that we are no longer alone, for God is with us. God has shown us favor. God has done great things for us. And we are blessed and filled with joy.

LOVE The nativity and the Incarnation cannot be separated from the crucifixion, the journey to the cross. Jesus came and dwelt among us in order to reveal God’s grace and truth by his life and ultimately through his suffering, death and resurrection. We are reminded that the way of Christ is the way of love. It is love that redeems, shows mercy, saves, gives hope, offers peace, and produces joy. It is love that shows the way to true life. St. John reminds us, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son,” and in his words we have the full understanding of God’s love for us—a deep, abiding love that reaches out to us in the midst of our chaotic lives and envelopes us and redeems us. This is the love that comes down at Christmas.

LIGHT Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. We are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s grace to others. The darkness of fear and hopelessness recede and the shadows of sin fall away, as more and more light is shed into the world. This light that we see in Jesus stirs our hearts as we rejoice that the promise of long ago has been realized.

Let us remember that the birth of Jesus was the beginning of the Christian life and the unselfish joy at Christmas shall start the spirit that is to rule throughout the New Year. In our church and in our homes, let us experience the true meaning of Christmas. Let us work together to build a better world. Let us receive and give the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love at Christmas and throughout the year.