Each year Aunt Donna hoped that Uncle Bruce would throw her a surprise birthday party. She waited, her birthday would come and go; no party. In fact, each year, on Donna’s birthday, Bruce would be out of town on a hundred-mile bike ride through the mountainous desert country of Colorado.
This year Donna decided she was going to wait no longer. She was tired of being disappointed. She told Bruce not to even think of planning anything for her 70th birthday, because she was going out of town to celebrate all by herself!
The problem was that Bruce had already planned a big seventieth birthday surprise party for his beloved wife! The invitations had gone out, family members were collaborating with him, the cake was ordered… It was ON!
Desperate, Bruce called the family for help. Together, they came up with a plan to keep Donna at home, but in the dark. They planned an elaborate ruse to get her out of the house at just the right time, so the guests could gather.
Love works. When Donna walked into her home after being sent on a wild goose chase, she was greeted with birthday cheer by all those who had gathered to celebrate her. Her smile could have lit the entire state of Colorado! After all those years, she had her party!
To participate in Advent is to participate in a great, cosmic surprise party!
The Latin root meaning of Advent is “Veni” - to come. We wait - year after year, as Aunt Donna did in hopes of a surprise birthday party. We wait, Christ comes. In the darkest days of the year we light the Advent candles to recount the story of how Christmas came to us. Each candle in the wreath is a stepping stone of light that leads us through time to the first coming of our Savior, and reminds us that he will come again.
Tonight we light the candle in the Advent wreath that represents Hope. The hope of the people of God as they waited year after year for a party that was a long time in coming, and our hope for the return of Jesus to turn this whole world right-side up again!
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.