O little town of Bethlehem,How still we see thee lie.Above thy deep and dreamless sleepThe silent stars go by;Yet in thy dark streets shinethThe everlasting Light.The hopes and fears of all the yearsAre met in thee tonight. (Philips Brooks)
Writing about “anticipation” this week, I’ve been working on a Top-5 list leading up to Christmas. Of course, like anything else, what I’m hoping for is somewhat of a moving target. But there have been some consistent themes.
So here goes – my Anticipation Top-5. This is not wishful thinking, this is a combination of my faith, what I see as possible, and my understanding of God’s will.
This is not wishful thinking, this is a combination of my faith, what I see as possible, and my understanding of God’s will.
- Healing: I’m anticipating – hoping, praying for, believing – to see Rebekah healed and back in the pulpit. I really don’t want anything else for Christmas, because for Rebekah, the work of ministry is joy, and I’d give anything to see her back, fully engaged with what God has so clearly called her to do.
- Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy: The traditional four pillars of Advent are not arbitrary, nor are they randomly assigned – they speak to the very reason God sent Jesus. I’m open when it comes to expressions of faith, but if hope, peace, love, and joy are what you’re looking for, then I know without a doubt that Christ is the answer.
- New Life: I may be beginning a new decade in my life, one often associated with the slowing down of age, but all I can see around here is new life! As a church, we’re hovering on the brink of something remarkable; as a family, Rebekah and I are excited to see what God has in store; as Grandparents, we’re watching vibrant life spring up in David and Beks; as a writer, I’m looking forward to releasing a new book in the New Year.
- Reconciliation: This is a fancy, theological, word that brings the idea of healing to our relationship with God, our relationships with one another, and the way we communicate God’s love to the world. The Church has been charged with the responsibility for reconciling the world to God, through Christ (2 Corinthians 5). Again, this is more than wishful thinking, and I actually anticipate progress in this area – especially as Wake Forest Presbyterian Church shares the Walk through Bethlehem experience with our community.
- The Promise of the Ages: My favorite Advent anticipation word is “promise.” There’s a phrase that describes Jesus as, “The Promise of the Ages.” It’s a moniker that resonates with me because, while each new December that we prepare for Christmas has its own element of newness and restoration, there’s also The Big Picture. The Big Picture is that the coming of Jesus addresses the essential, fundamental, systemic brokenness of our world. I anticipate the promise of restoration. Or, as “O Little Town of Bethlehem” affirms so beautifully, The hope and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
There is so much to look forward to over the next few weeks. I’m praying that each one of us approach Advent with intention, with anticipation, and with the promise of the ages – DEREK