Today marks the first Sunday in Advent in the Christian Calendar. It has been said “It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.”  

Advent is primarily observed in Christian communities as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming. It is a time imbued with the sense of longing and hopeful anticipation, bringing an enduring message of hope. It offers hope for redemption, reconciliation, peace, and a better world. 

Advent is more than a countdown to Christmas. It’s a season of expectation for learning what it means to properly wait. This expectation is obviously built on looking forward to Christmas, but that’s not its only purpose. In participating in Advent, the church reclaims not only the importance of Christmas, but acknowledges the darkness that the light will overcome.

The Advent season teaches that even in times of darkness and despair, there is a glimmer of light that brings hope. Advent demonstrates that in the depth of winter, the seed of new life is planted, signifying the anticipation of something new and beautiful on the horizon.

Pastor Louie Giglio wrote in his book The word advent means "expectation." What advent can do for us is create a sense of hope.

The message of hope that Advent carries isn't confined to any specific religion or belief system. It’s a universal sentiment that can apply to the human experience, transcending religious boundaries. People of all faiths, or even those who don’t identify with any faith, can inspire their lives with this potent Advent hope.

Firstly, everyone experiences moments of darkness and despair. Whether it's financial difficulties, personal failures, illnesses, loss, or conflict, these challenges are an integral part of human life. However, the lesson of Advent encourages everyone to not lose hope in these times, reassuring us that the winter of our lives is often the prelude to the blossoming of new blessings and opportunities. 

Secondly, Advent teaches us the virtue of patient waiting. Often in life, good things don't come easily or instantly. Success and achievements are typically a product of constant efforts, dedication, and a fair share of patience. The season of Advent encapsulates the wisdom that there is beauty in the wait and growth in the journey.

Thirdly, Advent enlightens us that hope can change our perspective about life. It can change despair into anticipation, problems into challenges, and trials into triumphs. By nurturing a hopeful outlook, we become more resilient and capable of overcoming the adversities life throws at us.

Lastly, Advent spreads the message of communal hope. This resonates deeply with the recent global pandemic that humanity is grappling with. We may be separate in our struggles, but we are united in our hopes – hope for healing, hope for the return of normalcy, and hope for a brighter future. This shared hope not only brings comfort and encouragement but also binds us together as a global community.

Therefore, regardless of faith, embracing the Advent spirit of hope can become an empowering compass guiding us through life’s highs and lows. Whether you're a Christian observing Advent, or an individual of another faith or none at all, this season of hope has a transformative lesson to share. Allow hope to enter, fill your hearts, influence your perspectives, and let it shine on your path ahead. Advent's enduring message of hope, if taken to heart, has the power to inspire resilience, courage, patience, optimism, and unity – qualities needed for a fulfilling life journey.

Author : Debbie Huxton

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