• faith

    [Advent Week 5] The Angel’s Candle

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” John 3:16 offers some of the best-known words in the entire Bible. A story, a promise. And it all starts with Christmas. With God giving us his Son, Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us.  Now that my children are grown, I still remember the overpowering rush of love that engulfed me when each one was born. And the heartbreak that happened every time they “flew the nest” – even though I knew I would continue to hear from, see, and hug them again.  Jesus’ sacrifice didn’t start on the way to the cross. It started when he left Paradise…

  • faith

    [Advent Week 4] The Shepherd’s Candle

    Each of my sons traveled to China with my mom over their 16th birthdays. It was an amazing experience and I was so grateful for them to have it with their grandma, serving God and his people. But I missed them terribly when they were away. And counted the days until I could see them again with growing anticipation. We had a joyful reunion at the airport when each one returned.  I’m not good at waiting. The month-long wait for my sons to return felt like an eternity. I can’t begin to imagine what the waiting must have felt like for God’s people in anticipation of the Messiah.  This Advent…

  • faith

    [Advent Week 3] The Bethlehem Candle

    One of my favorite lessons about peace is something we teach our students in the Institute during our Peacemaking courses: peace is not the absence of conflict, but recognizing the presence of God in it. The second candle on the Advent wreath is often called the “Bethlehem Candle,” and it represents how Jesus’ arrival on Earth signaled the arrival of true peace. Emmanuel – God with us – the very presence of God in human form, made peace possible. We can now access “peace that surpasses human understanding.” I can think of so many people who need to hear about this peace. And I want to be able to share…

  • faith

    [Advent Week 2] The Prophet’s Candle

    Hope. This has been a theme in my personal reflections since my husband suddenly moved to heaven 3 months before Christmas last year. A reminder that Jesus’ very existence means even people grieving or hurting in this season – can have hope.  The biblical prophets were true champions of hope. Their resilience and faith bolsters me during the darkest times. And in this season I want more than ever to be able to share hope with others who need it.  The first candle we light on the Advent wreath is often called the “Prophet’s Candle.” In the Advent season of waiting, it’s a wonderful practice to reflect on those who…

  • faith

    [Advent Week 1] The Advent Wreath

    As we finish up our turkey leftovers and (hopefully) bask in some fond Thanksgiving memories, the season is already turning to Advent. Each Sunday next month, many church traditions around the world will reflect during this period of waiting for the Messiah’s arrival – or “advent.” Growing up, the Advent Wreath was a hallmark of my family’s church services during the season of Advent. With the lighting of each candle and the readings and testimonies shared during these times, my anticipation grew. When my children were young we kept the tradition of the Advent Wreath in our home. The traditional symbol and practice helped me focus on the significance of…

  • communication

    Advent: Joy in the Darkness

    Depression. Anxiety. Crime. Suicide. Darkness. If you’ve watched the news at all during the past 3 years… if you have teenagers…. if your teens have friends…. There’s not a lot of talk about joy. But there’s a whole lot of talk about how hard life is.  So how do we talk about joy at Christmas? I’ve recently asked myself that very question. My husband of 36 years this month is gone. He’s never coming back here. I know he’s out of pain. I know he’s in a better place. But where does that leave me?  Mental health professionals tell us the holidays are the hardest time of year for many…

  • faith

    Advent: Reminders of Love for All

    If you have attended church for any amount of time, you are familiar with John 3:16. It reminds us that God loved us so much that he sent Jesus. Not to condemn us. To save us. From sin, darkness, death, and evil. I find that tremendously reassuring this Christmas season.  I especially appreciate this passage in The Message: “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely…

  • faith,  leadership

    Advent: The Presence of Peace

    “How am I supposed to have peace when my life is such a mess?” “….when my child won’t talk to me?” “…when my loved one is gone forever?” “…when the world is so filled with darkness?”  These are fair questions. I’ve asked them. You may have too. Or someone close to you has – or is asking them right now.   In his Messianic prophecy, Isaiah foretold Jesus would be called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). In their majestic announcement of Jesus’s arrival, the angels proclaimed there would now be “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14). When Jesus was departing this earth, he left his disciples with this encouraging message: “I…