It is the season of Advent. It is in this season that I feel the paradox of being in the world but not of the world. For followers of Jesus Christ, this season is a period of preparation, of waiting, not only for the celebration of the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem, but for the coming of the Son of Man in glory.

Our Scriptures share images of the end of days, of the messenger John the Baptist, of Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah and Joseph. We have Advent wreaths counting down the weeks. Each week our anticipation builds until that day when we sing, “Joy to the World, the Lord is come.”

Yet the world is clamoring for our attention. It may be Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Shop Local Saturday which shifted our focus or the constant barrage of holiday cheer on our screens, the endless obligations and parties that strip away our time, strip away our joy. These events can become reminders of all we have lost when death has touched our hearts.

Death has touched many these past two years. The world would have us believe it is this party or that gift that appropriately celebrates this season and will turn our grief and sorrow into joy. We hear the health of our economy is based on our gift giving and spending, and suddenly find ourselves over budget and anxious for the future. It may be the news about the pandemic or violence in cities, towns, or schools or climate change that steals our joy. We can become exhausted with the weariness of the world. We live in this world, yet ...

We are children of God. Christ’s Kingdom is not of this earth. When we shift our focus to the Advent messages of hope, love, joy and peace, we see the created world through the lens of Christ. We can have hope for our future because the one who holds the future is God. We can experience peace in the chaos of the world because we know the Prince of Peace. We can dance with joy because the victory is the Lord’s. We can love because of the love God has for us. He came to earth as a helpless infant to show us the way of love. His way led to the cross of Calvary. He died for the world He loves that it might be saved.

Consider your choices in this season. What gifts can you give that express Christ’s love? What activities can you engage in that offer hope? Is there a way you can share Christ’s peace with your neighbor? Participate in events and activities that bring the joy of the Lord into your heart.

The birth of Christ announced to the world that God is with us. God will not desert us. As we wait for the celebration of that birth and as we wait for the second coming, may we continue to live as the messengers sharing the Good News of the salvation of the world.

Carolyn Roy is pastor of Plank Chapel United Methodist Church.

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