We live in a world that seduces us with messages of celebrity, accumulation, success, power and the need for significance. And yet in this season of Advent we are reminded that God is at work, changing lives and communities, in a myriad of loving ways, through the lives of so many humble, unknown, ordinary, servant-hearted people.
When I was in Mozambique this year I met a beautiful man, an elder in his community, who with tears in his eyes thanked me that Australian Baptists were interested in his small village. He was surprised that others would care about life in what he saw as such an insignificant dot on the global map. Since that visit, a village-led water and reforestation project has commenced. Other adults are learning to read and write in their own language. Others are recording music. There are glimmers of surprising hope amid so many challenges.
Today, across the world, churches will light the second Advent candle, often referred to as the “Bethlehem Candle”.
We could call it the candle of surprise! At Bethlehem, God chose to break into human history in the most surprising, unexpected way. He chose a very ordinary young couple. He chose the most insignificant birth place. He chose the ostracised to be the newborn’s first visitors. Soon the infant King would be on the run as a refugee and as an adult he was most at home among the least.
- Today we’re reminded that no person or place is insignificant in the eyes of our loving Maker. No matter what others may say about you or your life choices, or even your postcode! And no act of love done for another is unimportant.
This Advent season, everyone of us can make a real difference in the lives of others, humbly pursuing shalom in our communities. We can enter into beautiful, but broken, places, spaces and lives around us, reminding others of their significance in the eyes of our surprising, loving, compassionate King.