Vol 12 No. 47 Advent and Other Good News: Theme of Hope

Dear friends,

As we have shared before the first Sunday of Advent marks for many Christians the beginning of the New Year.  Jesus is our beginning and our end.  The preparation for his birth reminds us to take seriously the profound upheaval in the world that was created by his coming; an upheaval for the world but a life-giving change for me as his child: new born to eternal life.  There are a variety of themes for each of the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas along with the appropriate scriptures:

Hope:  Isaiah 9:2.

Love:  Deuteronomy 10:17-19a; John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:7-9.

Peace:  Isaiah 9:6-7; John 14:27.

Joy:  Isaiah 65:18; Galatians 5:22-25.

Often people have an Advent wreath and light one candle each week representing the above themes and reading the appropriate scriptures.  This is old stuff for some reading this letter but this pattern of behaviours slows down the experience of the Advent/Christmas season and forces a savouring and reflection that is absent in the culture around us.  It is often absent in the cultural “within us“: the motives and behaviours we exhibit amidst this great indulgent, consumeristic binge.  Excess doesn’t just belong to the culture.  It is often lodged in Christ’s church.

The centre candle is often called the Christ candle and is lit on Christmas Day.  That is tradition.  I am not kin to all traditions.  I begin, draw, am “lit” and on fire because of Christ.  I have always lit the Christ candle first because it is from Christ that I draw the great themes of hope, peace, joy, and love… From nowhere else save Christ.  Enough said.

One more thing… This is about “crèche” or manger scenes.  Some of you will notice that some Christian churches do not put a “baby Jesus” in the manger scene until Christmas; a shame in my mind but fair enough by their own logic.  Not to be outdone 1 CBWC church on Vancouver Island had 2 manger scenes each with a “baby Jesus” in it.  Seriously?  Enough said.

For myself this first Sunday in Advent celebrates hope.  I felt that sense of hope in our Celebration Dinners this past week (more on that later) in Prince Albert and Moose Jaw.  Hope in the strength of First Baptist Prince Albert and in Michael Engbers love for folk and the love the church has for God.  Hope in Moose Jaw as a church begins to turn towards growth and renewal with real creativity.  Their newly ordained pastor Scott Carroll challenges us all by his good work in a hopeful direction.


In Christ,

Jeremy Bell


Quote of the Week: Isaiah 9:6 (NRSV) says so much of what I am wanting to say today:

For a child has been born for us,

    a son given to us;

authority rests upon his shoulders;

    and he is named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


Notes from the Family: Bingham Baptist Church in Droxford, SK, has not had active worship in it since the mid-1990’s.  Adjacent to the church (which remains unlocked for any who wish to visit amidst many multiple guest books) is a municipal graveyard.  Many of the founding members of the church are buried there.