The Pastor’s Study: Leaning into the Light

By Chris Bowman

Advent is upon us. The four Sundays before Christmas are set apart by the church as a season of waiting with anticipation for the Light of the World.

Each of the four Sundays of Advent we symbolize this anticipation by lighting a different candle. The light grows until, finally, the Christ candle is lit, on Christmas Eve. Symbolically at that same service we will each light our own candles to recognize that Christ came for each of us.

What’s up with all this pyromania?

Well, there is something honest and fulfilling in this symbol. I notice it when a match is struck in controlled explosion, or the acolyte enters the sanctuary with their light nearly out, or the glow of an ember in the ash of last night’s campfire.

The God of creation came to us as a tiny baby in a borrowed manger in an occupied land–a tiny little spark in a great big darkness. Yet that baby grew to become our savior and changed the world.

It often happens this way, doesn’t it? Brethren Volunteer Service began when one person stood up and spoke a new idea to the church; Brethren camping began when a person had a vision and visited each district to urge them to invest in camps for our youth; our denomination began, in fact, when a handful of people started studying the Bible together and decided to lean into what they learned.

Sometimes it starts with one small spark.

And as we look to our own new year I wonder what it is that we will decide to lean into…. This fellowship of followers where relationships matter and Christian discipleship counts. I’m looking forward.

— Chris Bowman is lead pastor at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren. This reflection first appeared in the church newsletter, and is reprinted with permission.

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