There’s a magic that comes along with Advent that makes my heart sing. Christmas music (of course, not till after Thanksgiving), the smell of fresh pine filling the living room, and Christmas lights twinkling from house to house make it a truly special time of year. As the staff and I at Bloom began to look at the Lectionary this year for the season of Advent, I think we all assumed we’d be talking a lot about a baby being born in a manger, a son born with the government resting on his shoulders, and a pregnant Mary on a donkey being turned away from an inn. If you came to one of our Gatherings this past week, you will know that this was not the case. Instead, the topic was a bit less magical: death and destruction.

In the gospel reading from Mark, Jesus uses some Old Testament prophesies about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem to point us to an apocalyptic future. But, as David spoke about it in our Gatherings, he painted a picture for us so we could begin to see that this apocalyptic message was not without hope. This hope begins at death crashing into a new reality and ends with Christ reigning on the throne. It was after this past weekend that I realized what advent was really about. It’s not just about Christ’s first advent beginning the work of this new reality through his death on the cross and resurrection, but also about his second advent as the fulfillment of that work. And the beautiful thing is that we get to be a part of it.

My kids this year are finally old enough to get excited about Christmas, and of course what they’re most excited about is presents. As a parent, my goal this year is help them understand that this season is about so much more. It’s about family and house churches gathering together to celebrate, reflecting on Jesus’ birth and his coming to bring us into the newness of his kingdom, and the love that we should extend to each other and the world because Christ first loved us, and most of all HOPE. May our hearts be filled to the brim with the hope of christ and the new reality he brings this season, and has brought already through his coming to earth as our savior.