Advent candles burning bright
Gods love shown in flickering light
Love and Joy and Peace and Hope
It’s with God’s help that we can cope
Advent candles glowing fair
Driving out fear and despairOne of my favourite Advent hymns is Tomorrow Christ is Coming (#27 in Voices United). Set in a minor key, the words are not happy. But they are hopeful. And that is what Advent and Christmas are all about—not always happy but always hopeful.
In the Northern half of the world Christmas, a festival of light, comes at a time when the nights are the longest and the air is the coldest. Metaphorically winter is often seen as a time of death and want. Where spring brings new growth, summer brings fruits, and fall brings the harvest, winter brings frozen soil and frosted windows and bitter winds. As a metaphor it works well to talk about despair as a winter emotion.
And then, in the middle of everything, us silly people of faith start to sing about Joy to the World and tell stories about a baby born who would grow up to be a Saviour. It just doesn’t seem to fit. Until we remember that we are not only people of faith but also people of hope.
As people of hope we know that the world is sometimes, or even often, a place of danger. We know that there are lots of reasons for us to believe that “…the world is full of darkness, again there is no room; the symbols of existence are stable cross and tomb.” It would be easy to fall into a belief that all is lost. But because we are people of hope we can fight the despair.
This year, as part of our Christmas preparations I encourage all of us to look into the future. Look forward and see the possibilities that exist for your family, for Grande Prairie, for St. Paul's United Church. Even when we continually hear voices telling us what can go wrong, remember that we are people of hope. Hope will help get us through the down-times in the economy and through the struggles of the economic booms. Hope will help us remember why we are here. Hope may not erase the dark realities of life but it does give us a spark of light even in the deepest shadow.
The nights are getting longer. The wind is getting colder. But this Sunday we will start lighting coloured candles in our Advent wreath. Soon we will tell again the story of an amazing birth. “God will fulfill love’s purpose and this shall be the sign: we shall find Christ among us as woman, child, or man!”
When the nights grow long and cold
Gods promise calls us to be bold
A promised child, with us to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
See the candles glowing there
Shining Gods love everywhere.
Untitled poem ©November 2006 Rev. Gord Waldie
 Tomorrow Christ is Coming vs. 1 ©1966 Fred Kaan
 ibid verse 4
 Untitled poem ©November 2006 Rev. Gord Waldie