This past Sunday was the beginning of Advent, the season in the church calendar that leads up to Christmas day. Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning “arrival” or “coming”) is a time of anticipation. But it’s not anticipating for gifts or parties or egg nog. It’s a season of longing for hope—true hope in the midst of a dark world. Advent is an invitation to face our works of darkness and see the light of Jesus our Redeemer.
Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you observe Advent or not, you long for light. Deep down, you know there is darkness within. You have a sense of shame, inadequacy, and incompleteness. You know this–whether you consciously realize it or admit it—because you run to things for light, for hope. You run to money, success, sex, power, control, friendships, acclaim, morality, technology, alcohol, food, exercise or a thousand other things. All of those things are good things. But when they become ultimate things–things you look to for light and hope, they will only leave you in the darkness.
Do you want hope? Do you want light—this Christmas and beyond? There’s no amount of money or gifts or fame or sex or romance that can take away the darkness in you and all around you. You need something beyond created things. You need something outside of yourself. You need an Advent—an arrival of something, Someone, who will bring hope beyond your wildest dreams.
God’s answer for this longing—your longing—is his Son, the light-giving Redeemer, Jesus of Nazareth. In the words of Linus, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” God did not provide a circumstance or event or a system or information. He provided a Person who did not simply give light, but is light. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
You get a picture of this longing for the hope–the light–of Christmas in the Coldplay song “Christmas Lights.” It’s not a song about Jesus, of course. But it exposes the darkness that lives in us: “Got all kinds of poison in, of poison in my blood.” It illustrates the inherent desire in human beings for hope, for light: “I am up here holding on to all those chandeliers of hope.” It lays us bare, and reveals that the pursuit of hope in anything but Jesus—in this case a romantic relationship—will always leave us unsatisfied: “And like some drunken Elvis singing, I go singing out of tune, singing how I’ve always loved you, darling, and I always will.” It beckons us look to Christmas for what it is, a day of light and hope: “Oh Christmas lights light up the street, light up the fireworks in me, may all your troubles soon be gone, those Christmas lights keep shining on.”
When Jesus came, he came to give hope and light to all who trust in him and turn from trusting in themselves and other things. He will come back again in brilliant light and glory and on that day, all our troubles will be gone. It’s during this time of Advent we are reminded that we, like Israel, live in a time of anticipation. We don’t wait for our Redeemer’s first coming. We wait—long, yearn, groan—for his second coming. Coldplay’s “Christmas Lights” is a longing for something deeper than a reconciled romance with Christmas “lights” as the object of faith. Whether Chris Martin realizes it or would admit it, It’s a desperate cry for reconciliation with the Redeemer, who is the Light of Christmas.
Here’s the music video of “Christmas Lights”: