born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
-- Hymn 66, Charles Wesley (Hymnal 1982)
I am begining to think about the holidays (Starbucks is already in full Christmas mode), about Thanksgiving, the "Christmas season" (not the liturgical one, the commercial one), Christmas, and "post-Christmas." As I do so, I am more and more conscious that the words above very much describe our current human condition just as much as they did over 200 years ago when they were written. There is fear, sin, and woundedness all around us and within us. There are bright lights, turkeys (some on the table and some at the table!), and an almost forced festivity that is at odds with the mood of people in a country crawling out of the Great Recession, insanely busy, and, it seems, completely bound and even enslaved to sin and fear.
In the midst of that, the church invites us to enter the season of Advent. As one Advent bidding says:
As we enter, eager and expectant, into the season of Advent, let us in prayer and praise, thanksgiving and song, give voice to the hope set forth in teh Secriptures, that Christ's reign of love and light will indeed come among us. Let us offer ourselves anew as witnesses to the advent of Christs glory, seeking to bring Christs light and love to those who sit in darkness.That invitation to hope is not an invitation to some sort of plastic, fake, enforced cheerfulness, but an invition to stop, listen, and set our hope on Christ.
May God give us the grace and strength to look beyond the glitter of store windows and Christmas lights to the true Light that is coming into the world once again....