Let’s get this year over. I am finished with it. 2020. It wasn’t what we expected. Remember how it began? With hope and optimism. It began with forward thinking. 2020 vision. We were setting an agenda for the future. Remember? And then February came. We learned words we hadn’t heard before. “Coronavirus.” “Pandemic.” “Corn-tine.” “Lock down.” “Shelter in place.” “Social distancing.” And “Zoom.”
And politics? Gracious. Every four years we have an election that tops the one before in bitterness. The one we just endured was no exception. As I write, it isn’t over. Our nation is embroiled in division and rancor not seen since the turmoil of the 1960s divided people over questions of war and peace and race. We’ve seen this year that old question, race-based division, is still alive. Lives are being scarred by the hatred.
Let’s end 2020. It’s time. Fortunately, we are ending it. It’s time for Advent. Advent is the beginning of the year for Christians. Advent comes as the nights lengthen and light so precious is driven back by darkness. Advent comes with its looking for a light not yet come but coming soon. Advent brings its themes of hope, shalom, love, and joy into the darkest days when it seems we’ve run out of hope, shalom, love, and joy. Advent says a sign is coming; a child is about to be born. Advent says that child will be the bringer of hope, shalom, love, and joy. It says the people who were walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. The sun is rising with healing in its wings. The day is dawning and the morning star rising in our hearts.
One of the places I have not been but want to go is Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park. I want to go there for one reason. I want to be the first person to see the sunrise. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the east coast, and by rising early, climbing to its top, and standing on tiptoes you can be the one who sees the sun break the horizon and be the one who breaks the news of a new day to the people still in darkness. The day has dawned. I want to be that person.
We, Christians, Christ Followers, are that person. Light is dawning. The night is ending. We have seen it in a most surprising place. A child born in darkness in unassuming surroundings to a pair of country bumpkin Jews is the breaking of day, the end of the old, and the beginning of the new. He is our hope. He is the bringer of shalom. He is the reason angels announced good tidings of great joy to all people. He is the reminder that love wins and sin, darkness, and death are ending, and that the world is becoming a very different place. With this child born, sin and death lose their grip on the world and on us and everything changes. We are the people who stand on tiptoes, see the day break the darkness, point, and say, “There it is!” So many people are looking the wrong way and do not see it.
How do we announce it? Words. We tell about Jesus. And we live now filled with hope, shalom, love, and joy. We remember that “once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light.” And by that we become light too.