We have lit the candles of Hope, Peace and Joy. We Methodists call these things 'outward signs of inward grace' reminding us that life, reality and God's Kingdom aren't always what we see and perceive ... these symbols are greater things that give us the surety that God is present with us. This truth reminds us of Isaiah's words (7:14) ... "Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel!" We light those candles because something big has happened and is happening. Advent shouts "He's coming!" but the Gospel shouts "He's here!" Who and what is here?
Hope is here. In a land of darkness, 'behold, a light has come!' So be hopeful! We are not defined by the news, the virus, the negativity of false teachings, the falseness of the 'prosperity gospel.' Our hope comes from an eternal source ... and we have seen the sign, the child and the Savior! Hope is here!
Peace is here! Not a peace like the world gives, because the world says peace is lack of conflict, acquiescence to mediocrity or adoption of politically-correct and socially-popular ideas. Jesus reminds us that peace can come when your nation seems lost and your people have lost their center. Jesus says peace can come when you are an occupied people, taxed to the breaking point and challenged by a worldly king that demands we bow down to Caesar. The Prince of Peace comes into that world and proclaims a non-situational peace that comes from a heart devoted to following our leader, Jesus. It is a peace that says, recognize and process your feelings, but never be directed by them ... for we are more and better than that! We can have peace in the storm, for our peace has a name ... Jesus. Peace is here!
Joy has come! The angels tell us that "unto us is born this day a Savior that is Christ the Lord" and that this "Good News" will bring joy to all people. We are some of those people and we are the messengers of that Good News that tells the world a joyful message ... your sins are forgiven, your guilt is taken by God Himself and your growth into a new creation has begun. Joy has come!
This Sunday we will light the candle of love, the greatest of the eternal things. Love, like peace, joy and hope, are not situational. An old song said ... "love is a verb!" And I have heard often that love is a choice. How do I know this is absolutely true!? Because a God who knows me, who sees everything I do, who knows my innermost thoughts, and who knows that I am fallen/broken/fragile ... loves me so much He has sent my sins as far as the East is from the West. That God knows love is a verb and a choice. That God demonstrates that love with the leadership of action ... leadership that I am excited and honored to follow. Love has come ... and His name is Jesus!
That Good News should bring joy, peace and hope! That is the reality in which I choose to live and dream! For love has come! Randy