On Sunday, my family began the holiday pastime of Advent, a liturgical tradition that my Catholic-raised father and Lutheran-raised mother introduced into my childhood and that carried over into my Catholic-Evangelical marriage.

The Advent wreath, which is the center of our tradition’s focus, has four candles, each lit on a successive week (until all four are lit at the same time) and a fifth candle in the middle, representative of “the light of God entering the world” through the Nativity. The individual weeks represent: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.

This year, more so than in years past, God has opened my eyes to the pain of my neighbors and to the uncertainty that many Americans are facing every day (myself included). Coming to know the struggles that everyday people are facing, some of them faceless strangers that I could call neighbors by their proximity to where I spend most of my time, well, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. And scary. And it makes me angry too.

It doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot of hope, peace, joy or love in the world. Certainly, there is no expectation of a rescue “advent” (coming), when you feel abandoned, unseen and horribly alone.

lights-1088141_1920What I can say, with utter certainty, is threefold: with God, you are never alone. With God, who is the ultimate source of wisdom, we don’t have to be afraid to seek out answers, or ask Him to illuminate our path. With God, no matter how rocky and bleak the future appears, there is no surer and steadier foundation than the one built upon Him.

Therefore I have hope and this advent observation my family participates in is a reminder of His coming into the world to bring restoration and healing. May you find peace in Christ and discover that you are never alone.  Maranatha (Come, O Lord!).

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