SIDE NOTE: Advent is a season of the Christian Year. I know that not all my readers are Christians. While not all of us are awaiting the Light of Christ, we all can use some light during these dark days. Even if you do not profess to be a Christian, may you find hope, love, joy, and peace during these last days of 2017. May you hold these gifts close to you always.
The liturgical season called Advent is my favorite in the entire Church year. The season of Advent is comprised of these four weeks before Christmas in which we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. Some churches light candles each Sunday of Advent and on Christmas Eve. The candles represent hope, joy, love, peace, and there is often one final white candle in the middle. That candle represents Christ and is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve.
Generally speaking, I cannot stand candles, but by December, my soul longs for still shining lights of hope, love, joy, and peace. This season reminds me that I am not alone so long as I keep the lights of hope, love, joy, peace, and Jesus Christ alive in me always. The fact that we receive this season each year is a spiritual discipline for me because it teaches me that I need to be in constant preparation for the coming of the Light of the World. Over the next few weeks as we prepare for the Christ Child I will share some posts about what I am ready to see in the world with the help of the lights of hope, love, joy, and peace. I do not know what lies ahead, all I know is that I am ready for a new thing. During this season, I want to prepare myself to be ready for whatever the new thing is that God wants to do in the world.
I must admit that I have been apprehensive about writing these past few months. I am not struggling with the mechanics, topics, or even with the desire to write. Rather, I want to be cautious about the ideas I share with the world. The pen gives one a certain power, and I believe that each person who calls themselves a writer ought to remember that writing, even the use of language, can do a certain violence. Our words call in, and our words exclude. I come to understand more with each passing day that language has power. I serve a Savior who in John 1 is described as “The Word” become flesh. Language gives meaning, and with my language, I can define the world around me.
In these past months, I have been troubled to the core of my being by the way language is deployed in the public sphere. Words have been used to rip communities apart, to diminish the lives of others, to pick fights, and to silence survivors of abuse. We are all the survivors of these horrors in the public square, and we are also all complicit with these horrors in the public square. Even today as I finish writing this piece, we see that political partisanship supersedes the testimonies of those who say their childhoods, and by extension, their adulthoods are diminished because of the abuses of a “respected” public servant. We see these stories each day during the never-ending news cycle, but the stories impact us so much because they are our stories. They are our lived experiences.
And, perhaps on this Monday, the only hope I can offer is the hope of a Savior who was born into horror. We celebrate Jesus’ birth, but we must also remember all the innocents who died in retaliation against His presence. This little, poor boy of color born to a young mother in a barn upset the social order. That young boy was born to save humanity by dying for it, but a whole lot of other young boys of color died first. Where is the redemption in that reality? Babies are harmed so that adults can be preserved. As we live through these last days of 2017, let us not only have hope but also let us be creators of hope. Let us be those who are a light to children that they don’t have to endure harm at the hands of adults. Let us be a light to those who have survived trauma that they are believed and that better days are coming. Let us be a light in our own lives because we can only love others when we have learned to love ourselves fully. Let us be the light. Let us choose hope, undying hope.