• 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…