Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, NRSV)
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (Corinthians 13:12-13, NRSV)
On Sunday, December 20, we marked the fourth and final Sunday of Advent by lighting the fourth candle, the Candle of Faith. Advent is a time of waiting with expectation. It is also a time for affirming and renewing our faith. The familiar words of the Letter to the Hebrews are helpful. Because each of us in our own way has experienced the truth of God incarnate in Jesus the Christ, we have faith. We live with the assurance that God will come again and the conviction that God will be revealed to us in new ways as we celebrate together the miracle of Christmas.
In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote in a different way about the difference between what is now, “we see in a mirror, dimly,” and then, “we will see face to face.” His words are a reminder that waiting with expectation is not limited to Advent. There is always a “not yet” or “still to come” aspect of Christian life. We learn about God from the words of scripture, but we believe God is still speaking so we listen to hear new words for our time. We give thanks for what God has done in history and in our own lives, and yet we wait with faith for the new things God that God will do.
This is my faith, the assurance that God is present even now, working to bring about the things that we all hope for: the end of the pandemic, economic recovery for those who have lost so much, restored relationships, leaders collaborating for the good of all people, and yes, the ability to travel safely and gather with loved ones. Hugs. I’m hoping for hugs. I give thanks for faith, for the conviction that what I cannot yet see is coming. It is coming. The fourth candle of Advent is often called the Candle of Love. I live with faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
God of Jesus the Christ, as we move from the season of Advent to the celebration of Christmas, open our hearts and homes to welcome you in new ways. Give us ears to hear your still-speaking voice and eyes to see what new things you are doing among us. Fill our hearts with your love so that it overflows to embrace all people. With faith, hope, and love, Amen.