“God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of His Son, whom he loves. His Son paid the price to free us, which means our sins are forgiven.” Colossians 1:13
Omicron, the latest variant of the corona virus threatens to cast a dark shadow over the world in this season of Advent. We are living in a changing and turbulent time. Pope Francis saw this as a time of reckoning, when ways of thinking are shaken up and our priorities and lifestyles are challenged. The trials of life reveal what is truly in our hearts.1
The season of Advent is a time to proclaim the good news that God has rescued us from the power of darkness to bring us into the kingdom of heaven. Advent 2021 is a time to see the Covid 19 pandemic from another perspective. The tiny virus opens our eyes to the harsh reality of the hellish conditions here on earth. We are living in a dark world of sin, evil and death where so much suffering is caused by human lust, pride and greed. The world desperately needs to hear the good news that Jesus is the Light of the World. Jesus came to show us that heaven, not hell, is God’s perfect will for the world.
Heaven is not a pipe dream nor a figment of our imagination – it is the promise and perfect plan of our Heavenly Father. Jesus did not come to send anyone to hell.2 Jesus died and rose from the dead so that we can become God’s new creations3 who are living to glorify God and not ourselves. We are to be the living stones of God’s temple as well as His royal priesthood.4 We are to have a taste of heaven here on earth with a personal relationship with God as our Heavenly Father.
The greatest proof of God’s unconditional love is Christ Crucified. Like the prodigal son, we need to take the first step of repentance – to turn from our foolish ways and to turn back to God.5 However, like the early disciples in Ephesus, we need to move from repentance to faith in the Risen Christ in order to receive the Holy Spirit.6 It is through faith in the Risen Christ that our hearts are filled with the love of God and the blessed assurance that we are God’s beloved.7
When our image of God is distorted we are unable to experience the forgiveness and unconditional love of God. When we see God as our Judge and not as our Heavenly Father, we live our lives as slaves of Satan and not as the children of God – fear, guilt, unbelief, and false beliefs keep us from seeing the loving presence of God in the mundane activities of our daily lives. When we learn to be thankful for the small mercies of God each day, we will have a taste of heaven.
Advent is the season of expectant waiting and preparation to remind us to make room in our hearts for Christ. The discipline of silence and contemplative prayer provides us with a way to do so. According to Henri Nouwen, we celebrate Christ’s victory over the world, over death, and over the evil one, every time we spend silent time in our prayer room.8 As followers of Christ we are to stand on the victory of Christ over evil. We cannot have victory over evil when we are not standing firm in our identity as a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is only when Jesus is Lord in our lives to lead us into the rest of God9 that we can have a taste of the heavenly peace that comes from this victory.
Most important of all, in Christ, we can have a taste of heaven even when we walk in darkness for we have the bright light of God which shines on those who live in the land of death’s shadows.10 When we go through suffering, trials and persecution, we have the comfort of God through the Holy Spirit.11 Our bodies may be dying but our spirits are renewed every day as we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.12 Our problems become an opportunity for great joy for it is a time when our faith is being refined and perfected.13 In persecution and fiery trials, we are partners with Christ in his suffering and we will have the wonderful joy of seeing the glory of Christ when it is revealed to the world. 14
Advent is a time when the world is waiting in hope for the good news that Christ is the Light to lead us out of our dark times. May the fire of God’s love in our hearts shine forth as a beacon of light for those who are walking in darkness. Let us bring the good news, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” as we share our hope in Christ:
“There is a hope that burns within my heart
That gives me strength for every passing day
A glimpse of glory now revealed in meagre part
Yet drives all doubt away
I stand in Christ with sins forgiven
And Christ in me the hope of heaven
My highest calling and my deepest joy
To make His will my home.
There is a hope that lifts my weary head
A consolation strong against despair
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit
I find the Saviour there
Through present sufferings future’s fear
He whispers courage in my ear
For I am safe in everlasting arms
And they will lead me home.”
- Pope Francis, Ler Us Dream, (London, Simon & Schuster, 2020) 1
- 2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:32, Ezekiel 33:11
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- 1 Peter 2:4-5
- Luke 15:17-21
- Acts of the Apostles, 19:1-7
- Romans 5:1-5
- Nouwen Meditation: Reflect the Peace of Christ, November 23, 2021
- Hebrews 4:1-2
- Isaiah 9:2
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
- James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7
- 1 Peter 4:12-17