Advent is the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.
Symbolic of this expectant time of waiting, this hopeful anticipation of the birth of the King of kings and Lord of Lords, is the advent wreath. Four candles are lit, one each week, as we eagerly countdown the weeks and days until the birth of our Lord. Flames are lit, not only atop each candle, but more so, in the hearts of expectant Christians around the world. These are flames of hope. These are flames of renewal. These are flames that remind us of our Father’s undying love. Flames that rekindle our love for Him.
But there is an insidious plot to snuff out these flames.
There is a scheme to veil our hearts from the tidings of comfort and joy that are upon us. This scheme is subtle. It is deceptive. It creeps upon us imperceptibly. It outflanks us on two major fronts.
First, for those of us who don’t know the intimacy of a personal relationship with The Lord, the flames get snuffed out before the candles can be lit. We get distracted by all the glitz and glamour of the season. We are enamored by the trees, lights, and decorations. We are overwhelmed with the gift shopping, the party hosting, the present wrapping, and the knowledge of mounting bills that will soon need payment. The advent wrath looks pretty, with it’s purple and pink candles, but there is no time for the flames to ignite our soul.
We don’t know, what we don’t know.
The other tactic to snuff out the advent flames is geared for those of us who have tasted the intimacy of a personal relationship with Christ. We have been bathed in forgiveness, washed of our past, and spent years walking side by side with our Savior. We have celebrated many Easters, sung many hymns, witnessed many baptisms, and lit many advent candles. We know all about advent.
And sometimes that is the curse.
The curse of knowing – thinking that advent can be reduced down to what we recall from our childhood memories, mistaking advent to merely the sum of our previous yuletide experiences, prohibits us from delving deeper into the intimacy that awaits our walk with the King. Because we think that we know fully, we slowly have constructed a veil, that keeps us from knowing fully. That expectant yearning that moves our hearts still seeks fulfillment, but we begin trying to fill that void with other, inferior holiday moments.
It is really an ingenious plan to snuff out the Advent flames. It is a plan to distract us from teh real gift that keeps on giving. It is a plan devised to send a deluge of stimuli and disguise the real reason for the season.
As I light the candle each week, I have to pause and reflect on the flame, external, and internal, and make sure I don’t allow it to be snuffed out, but rather to burn brightly. I want the flames to enlighten my heart and soul, illuminating His glory, and decorating the season with purpose.