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Advent in the Dark

This guest post on Advent was written by Stephen Lawson for the Hopwood Christian Church (Johnson City, TN):

We are beginning to see a lot more sky around east Tennessee. The canopy of leaves, recently ablaze with reds, yellows and oranges has now largely fallen to the ground leaving limbs naked and providing us with an unobstructed vision of the blue-grey above. Perhaps it is one of God’s many small gifts to us that during the season when the sun seems to sprint from one horizon to the other we have the clearest vision of it.

At first brush, it seems strange that Advent and Christmas fall during this dark season. Why do we remember the mystery of the Incarnation, that most joyous event, when the earth is barren, dark, and cold? Doesn't summertime, with its flowering life ,seem like a better time to celebrate the birth of the life-giving Christ?

The birth of Jesus is good news, indeed the best of news. Yet, this good news comes in the midst of all of the bad news of creation. The death of a friend. The illness of a spouse. The stress of financial instability. The heartsickness of loneliness. It is in the middle these, our coldest nights, our darkest days, when the sun seems to withhold its warmth, that Christ comes. Christ, the light of the world, brings brightness to the deepest recesses of this barren world. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5).

Advent is a season of preparation for the observance of Christ’s birth. It literally means coming or arrival. During the four weeks before Christmas, we ready our hearts and lives to receive again the good news that God reconciles the world to himself through the child of a virgin peasant.

This Advent, we at the Hopwood church are reflecting on the theme “Divine Interruption.” We are remembering both the loud and the quiet ways that Christ interrupts our every day existence. We pray that once again Jesus breaks through the hard, frozen soil of our life and plants a seed of new life, a seed of hope.

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