Advent’s Promise: Embracing the Joyful News of Christmas

But the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

~Luke 2:10-11

I could probably say this for every season every year, but Advent has really flown by this year! Advent is the shortest of the seasons observed by the church, just four Sundays. Because of quirks in the interaction between the church calendar and the secular one, Advent doesn’t always even last a full four weeks—such as this year when the Fourth Sunday of Advent happens to fall on December 24th and is, thus, also Christmas Eve!

The primary emphases of Advent are about expectant waiting and faithful preparation for the coming of the Lord. The tone of Advent is subdued but not unhopeful, calm with only a hint of excitement. All of this contrasts quite starkly, of course, with the way the world around us treats the month of December (and increasingly November…and October) as the true Christmas season. A preacher, such as myself, grousing about this dynamic is nothing new.

Despite the sense that the forces of commercialization and secularization seem to have the upper hand in all of this—as first and most brilliantly observed in A Charlie Brown Christmas 58 years ago!—I want to make it clear that those forces can never overtake the reality of the reason for this season! At the heart of our expectant waiting and our faithful preparation is the Good News of the Christmas Gospel: our sister Mary gives birth to a baby boy that she and Joseph name Jesus.

This simple story is our thrill of hope and the real excitement that animates our various celebrations of it. It was true 2000 years ago, and it was true when Linus explained it to Charlie Brown, and it is true today. Every single time we return to this anchor of hope every wind of chaos is stilled and we can rest and rejoice in gladness!

At Saint Francis Ministries our mission is simple: to provide healing and hope to children and families. That mission is inspired by the hope that was born on that first Christmas night. As we know from Luke’s Gospel, the circumstances for the Holy Family were less than ideal—and we know that the circumstances of the world today aren’t much better. The important thing to remember, now as then, are the words of the angels who came to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people!”

The good news and the great joy we share is not about having a perfect Christmas but a holy one. A Christmas that reminds us we have no need to fear as we embrace the life and example of Jesus that makes a difference, withstands the dark forces of the world, and saves us. This is the only Christmas worth celebrating and, no matter how quick or slow the seasons seem to pass, is worth the wait!

One behalf of all of us at Saint Francis Ministries, I wish you a blessed and happy Christmas filled with hope and healing!

Fr. Andrew O’Connor serves as Saint Francis Ministries’ Executive Officer for Mission & Ministry.

Picture of The Reverend Andrew T. O’Connor
The Reverend Andrew T. O’Connor

Fr. O’Connor is the Executive Officer for Mission & Ministry for Saint Francis Ministries.

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