Yesterday marked the first Sunday of Advent, the season on the church calendar meant for the preparation of the celebration of the birth of Christ. Many churches around the world celebrated by lighting the first candle of the traditional advent wreath–one that historically symbolizes hope.

Advent means “coming” or “arrival,” and my first realization that the season was fast approaching came this Wednesday, the final day of November.

Christmas in Europe

An annual tradition of YWAM Lausanne is to present a Christmas program in the city. So that afternoon we mixed an abundance of hot chocolate, baked Christmas cookies, practiced our Christmas carols and then headed downtown to bring some Christmas cheer and talk about our hope in Christ.

While many Europeans will flock to Christmas markets this Christmas, church attendance and religious beliefs in general have been in decline on the continent. Our annual program is a chance to share about the meaning of Christmas and also make a connection with people or pray for them.

For me, being in the city as snowflakes swirled around us was the first taste of Christmas and the reminder that the season was changing. Watching people stop for a cup of hot chocolate and talk also renewed my hope for Europe and that God is working in the lives of the people of this continent.

Let Hope Grow

Advent invites Christians to focus on Christ’s birth as the reason for this celebration, and to anticipate this celebration with excitement and joy.

It’s a time for reflecting on and re-aligning my hopes so that they are placed in Him–not on my own abilities or other people’s actions. Has my soul become weighed down, subconsciously heavy because my hope has been placed on certain things and people—basically anything other than Jesus?

I and others at YWAM Lausanne have committed to celebrate the season with the larger Body of Christ through readings and focused times of prayer or meditation.

As we delve into the Christmas story we focus on its relevance in our lives today. Advent is an invitation to intentionally pause and connect with God in a season notorious for its busyness and bustle. It’s a time to cultivate anticipation of the coming King.

This week, will you join me in reflecting on the hope we have in Jesus, and how as stated in Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

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