Advent is a time of waiting. We await the birth of the Christ child but perhaps even more importantly we await what the Christ child represents: change. Christ brings us the promise of a new way of living in the world, a new way of doing and being. Into our current world that is so obsessed with greed and power, love is born. But Advent isn’t just about waiting as if God is suddenly going to solve our problems. It’s about an active waiting, anticipating and preparing for how we can participate in this new world – how we can help bring hope by creating peace and justice in our lives and in our society.
In the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, the prophet also gave the people of Israel a vision of a different kind of world. This was a world where “common sense” was turned upside down and where the wolf and the lamb lived in peace. Not a world where the lamb defeated the wolf in battle but where they learned to live harmoniously. A world where the lamb no longer needed to fear. Is Isaiah’s words, this would be a world filled with the knowledge of God, a world without violence or oppression for if we truly know the love of God we cannot do violence and harm to others.
For us who follow Christ, we understand this vision of a different way to be fulfilled in Christ. By knowing Christ we know God. But simple knowledge of doctrines concerning Christ isn’t enough. We also need to “know” Christ as we know a trusted friend. We need to know Christ in our hearts and not just our heads for it is in our hearts where transformation and growth must take place. How we act in the world doesn’t change unless our hearts change. How do we do this? Can we forget about doctrines and whether we’re believing the “right” things and just feel the presence of Christ, of love, in our hearts? Perhaps what we really anticipate during Advent is the birth of Christ into our hearts, continually, that we might be set upon a path of transformation and love.
This Advent, let us in our anticipation make room in our hearts for the birth of the love of Christ that we might be transformed and in turn begin to transform the world. For where there is love, there is hope. Let in the Spirit of God this Advent that it may bring us the wisdom and courage we need to create a new world where the wolf and lamb live together in peace, where we stand up for the oppressed, where people are treated fairly with compassion. This Advent let us be God’s love to the world.
(I originally wrote this short reflection for my church’s newsletter. It was inspired by my sermon from Sunday, December 4, 2016. The church’s website is http://www.phoenixchurch.org)