The Advent season is upon us again. Every year when Advent comes around I am reminded of lights. The blinking Christmas lights that played Christmas carols that used to ring the front window of my grandparents’ home. The blinding light of my bedroom when my little brother would come in to wake me up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning to open presents. The lights on the trees outside at Luther College as I walked back to my dorm room with friends following the candlelight worship service just before Christmas break. Lighting a candle at the end of mass at my in-laws’ church in Foley, Minn. But the one that stands out most to me is a bitterly cold December morning when I was at seminary.
It was my last year and I was full of anxiety about what came next, but for one quiet morning before the sun came up as I walked to the campus center to my job at the information desk I felt the presence of God. In the bitter cold with snow all around and the twinkling Christmas lights in the trees there was a deep quiet in that neighborhood of St. Paul and the peace that only comes when God reaches out to touch us. My anxiety was calmed through that quiet. That moment was not the end of my anxiety or the perfect moment that made everything right. Instead, that moment gave me strength to face the future.
The Gospel of Luke tells us in chapter one that the angel Gabriel came to Mary to announce that she was with child. In Mary’s unwed situation I doubt very much that it felt like a perfect moment to her at first. But then Gabriel bestows on her the peace of God, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).
In this Advent season of waiting for the birth of our Lord we are living out that very real waiting that we are doing for the second coming of Christ Jesus. While we wait, we also realize that he never left. His Holy Spirit works in, through, and among us as we worship, serve, and have fellowship together. God’s peace is among us, God’s presence is among us. May the Advent season be the time when you too feel the peace and love of God.