Advent emphasizes our need for Jesus

As we lit three candles on the third Sunday of Advent, our family prayed:

God of hope, you call us home from the exile of selfish oppression to the freedom of justice, the balm of healing, and the joy of sharing.

Make us strong to join you in your holy work, as friends of strangers and victims, companions of those whom others shun, and as the happiness of those whose hearts are broken.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Brothers and sisters, as we joyfully await the glorious coming of the Christ, let us pray for the needs of the church, our community, and the world.

God of joy and exultation,
you strengthen what is weak;
you enrich the poor
and give hope to those who live in fear.
Look upon our needs this day.
Make us grateful for the good news of salvation
and keep us faithful in your service
until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives for ever and ever. Amen.

O God of the exiles and the lost,
you promise restoration and wholeness
through the power of Jesus Christ.
Give us faith to live joyfully,
sustained by your promises
as we eagerly await the day when they will be fulfilled
for all the world to see,
through the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Advent emphasizes our need for Jesus.

As I read through this prayer, the phrase "whose hearts are broken", instantly brought to mind a sign written by the people who had lost their children in the Connecticut school shooting.

It said: "Our hearts are broken."

Indeed. Our hearts are too. Why these things happen is a mystery to me. My religious training answers that question for me - We live in a sin-cursed world, bad things are going to happen. This is true; however, this knowledge does not keep tears from coming to my eyes when I think of this tragedy. It does not stop the questions. I still look to God and ask why.

It was Jesus, after all, who said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

I do not know why bad things happen. I do not know why people shoot children. I do not know why there are mentally ill people who do not receive the professional care they need. What I do know is that these things happen because of our desperate state in a world cursed by sin. It wasn't meant to be this way, but God in his loving wisdom allowed us to have free will and we have abused it. 

What all of this emphasizes - Advent, the school shootings and everything else that is happening in the world - is that people are in desperate need of a savior. We need Jesus. Please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that it's my religion or else. If you are sincerely seeking truth, you will find Truth if you search with all your heart.

What I'm saying is that our world is in such bad shape. We need to trust the one who can heal our hearts and souls.

Another part of the Advent prayer says:

O God of the exiles and the lost,

you promise restoration and wholeness

through the power of Jesus Christ.

No other god can do this. No other god cares about us that much.

That is what Advent is about. The great God, maker of the universe, came to earth as a baby. He was born to poor parents in a stable. He learned to live as we live. He experienced everything we go through. He was born, he lived, he died. He rose again. He beat death into submission and he fills our hearts when we let him in. He heals the ravages that sin has created in our lives and loves us like crazy. He is also returning someday to set things straight.

This knowledge gives me hope. It is my prayer that you have hope as well.