November 30, 2023
The season of Advent starts on December 3, a season of preparation for the coming of our Savior, Emmanuel, God with us. As is the tradition in many churches, an evergreen wreath with four candles nestled in its branches is part of the significance of the season. The evergreen circle has no beginning and no end symbolizing the eternity of God, and our life everlasting. The four candles signify Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. There is a white candle in the center of the wreath called the Christ candle. It is lit on Christmas to tell the world that our Savior has arrived.
Advent is a short season in the Christian year. There is a lot of cultural hoop-de-do packed in those four weeks. Are you already tired as you look at everything on your to-do list for December? With all the programs, concerts, parties, plays, shopping, and meals during the month as well as the regular day-to-day routines, we can sometimes feel stretched and pulled to the point of exhaustion. Before you know it, the month has gone by, and Christmas has come and gone. All the ribbons and decorations have been put away for another year. The Christ Child has been born and perhaps we were too preoccupied to properly contemplate this gift of love from our Heavenly Father. What a shame to get so busy we miss this beautiful time of spiritual insight afforded to us. Perhaps we will give ourselves the gift of growing spiritually this Advent season.
r the next four weeks, I am going to take the liberty of renaming the candles on the Advent wreath. Each candle will represent a particular characteristic useful in our faith journey as we work to deepen our faith and be more like Christ in the world.
This week, we are going to name the first purple candle Humility. When we are humble, we realize that we depend totally on God. We accomplish this when we live a life of trusting him, living without self-sufficiency or pride. We laugh at toddlers who say, "I can do it myself". I don't know about you, but I understand those sentiments as I have thought about them on occasion. But oh, what folly. "Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up." James 4:10.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was in very humble circumstances. "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:6-7. How's that for humble? Do you think it was an accident that the Savior of the world would be born in a barn and had a hay manger for a bed? This was no bad luck. No, it was God's way of letting us know that this Savior is for everyone regardless of life circumstances.
How do we become more humble? Have we examined our attitudes lately? How do we treat each other? What is on our heart? You can tell what is in a person's heart because it will make its way to the lips and through actions. How difficult it must be to live with hate and disregard for others. "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9
As the first beautiful purple candle is lit on the advent wreath in churches all around the world this Sunday, the liturgy will be about hope. We must look forward in hope because God wants to bless not harm us. But in our quiet time, let's light a candle for humility. We can trust and depend on God as we travel on the road to eternity. Humbleness will help us draw closer to our Savior. During this season of preparation, sometimes called a mini-Lent, it would behoove us to look into our hearts and see if humbleness is a gift we need to give ourselves.