Advent is upon us. Candles burn in Sunday services, Christmas tree lights twinkle, and even a chilly breeze settles in my corner of Texas.
Advent is a time set aside to remember and expect our King as He enters into human suffering. The season exemplifies joy and waiting as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.
And yet, the excitement of Advent seems like a stark contrast in light of so much pain and darkness in our present society.
Everything in our culture seems to breathe a wearied and weathered sigh. The news continues to portray stories of suffering and conflict, such as sexual harassments, shootings, and uncertainty for DACA recipients and refugees.
We mourn the pain of the world and in the same breath we rejoice for the hope the Lord gives.
During these few weeks leading up to Christmas, Christians have the opportunity to understand the magnitude of who our King is and worship Him with our whole hearts. He is the God who came into humanity and experienced suffering in order to bring freedom. Jesus is the ultimate bridge builder between God and humanity.
Therefore, as we celebrate His coming, we can participate and act in his likeness. We can mimic his actions by loving others, entering into their stories, and building bridges with people who are suffering. This is a wonderful way to point our hearts to worship Him.
Here are a few simple ways to build bridges this Advent:
Write a Letter
Everyone needs an occasional word of encouragement. Ask the Lord to bring someone to mind -- i.e. a pastor, representative, agency leader, friend, etc. Write an intentional letter and let him or her know you care.
Give to Someone on the Margins
As you prepare gifts for loved ones, remember to give to neighbors who are experiencing hardship. The Texas Baptist Hunger Offering is a great way to provide food and poverty alleviation for people in Texas and around the world.
Pray for One Specific Person or People Group
It can be overwhelming to know who and what to pray for when so many problems arise. This advent, consider picking one person or people group and pray for them everyday. As you read the story of Jesus’ birth, remember that He came because He loves them.
Holidays are busy! Calendars are quickly filled with parties and travel plans. As you schedule the next few weeks, consider carving out specific times for rest. Take a nap or a short walk. Read a book or drink a cup of coffee by the fire. As we let our physical bodies rest, it is much easier to enter into times of worship and let the magnitude of the holiday resonate with our hearts.
I pray your hearts are stirred for the goodness of Jesus and the tangible hope and restoration He brings. May our hearts settle in Him and move with His calling to love others as we love ourselves.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels' voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine.
-- "O Holy Night"