Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent.  As a pastor, I almost hate to admit it, but I have a love/hate relationship with this season of the year.  I know.  I know…I’m supposed to love it because it’s all about the story of Jesus’ birth…and I do love that story.  But I’m not always sure how I feel about Advent.

You might think it’s because pastors get busier during seasons like Advent and Lent.  I’ll let you in on a little secret…it’s really not as bad as we make it sound.  At least that’s usually the case with Advent and Christmas.  Lent is a little different…but that’s a blog for another time.  Although Advent used to be called “Winter Lent” – a time for prayer, fasting, and preparation instead of parties, twinkling lights, and a jolly old dude in a red suit.

What I don’t like about this time of year is the darkness…it gets dark so much earlier.  That’s the irony of Advent.  Jesus, the Light of the World, is born in the darkest part of the year.  In some ways, I guess you could call that poetic.  When our lives and world are at their darkest, the Light of the World comes to us, offering hope, peace, joy, and love.

In this season of Advent, as we begin our annual journey to the manger, it doesn’t matter how much or how little faith you have; it doesn’t matter how cynical and pragmatic you might be; it doesn’t matter if you are hope-filled or hopeless.  What matters to God is simply that you are…you are God’s…you are loved…you are welcome…you are not alone.  Light shines in the darkness…and the darkness will never overcome it.