Advent and Why I Believe
I am a quote collector, a great admirer of the power of well-considered words. I don’t always quite know what to do with the quotes; sometimes I just get them out and admire them.
When I was planning my homily for the Losses to Christmas Light service, I looked to see if a harvested quote grabbed me. (One did, thank you Toni Morrison.) But since then I’ve been thinking about a quote from C.S. Lewis, re-found in my collection:
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
I have been asked why I am a Christian—not what I believe, but why I believe it—and why I devote so much time and energy to my church. For many, it seems hard to understand. Coming up with a concise answer for the empirical-minded questioner leaves me with the mumbles. Some words tumble out with no particular order. They probably include joy, meaning, love, serving, gratitude … and that I choose this path.
But I think Lewis hit it on the head, answering the question but also speaking to the simple disciplines of Advent. During this season, we get down to the basics of our faith (downsizing?), cleaning out the clutter for a fresh church year and to welcome Jesus anew. So laid bare, I again realize that I can’t imagine life without my faith. It is as simple as breathing, as obvious as the sunrise, as organic as the beating of my heart.
Advent is an opportunity to see through the lens of faith, refocusing in the light of Christ. In the presence of suffering, we can “see” courage. Where we find brokenness, we see forgiveness. In dark moments that don’t make sense, we can even hear laughter. We eke out a corner of beauty in a mess. We sense hope. We meet grace in unexpected places. The fullness of God-in-us can awaken our senses to wonder and awe. Most important, we can see what gives meaning to our lives.
I’ve managed to overfill Advent, but in its waning days and before Christmas glory breaks, I want to refocus. The sun rises on these cold mornings to a brand new day of possibilities. I can see it. Thanks be to God.