Advent: A Season of Opportunity
Believe it or not, it’s here. The Advent season is upon us. And now, more so than perhaps any year I can remember, I think it’s coming at exactly the right time. We’ve just come out of an election cycle marked by extreme divisiveness. Even post-election, many Americans (including Christians) are feeling uncertain and even fearful. It’s been tough. What better time, though, to enter into a season of celebration and contemplation, built on the themes of hope, peace, joy and love? The Advent season is a time where we have the opportunity to celebrate all of these things. It is a time where we, as Christians, can reflect on the entrance of the One who was the perfect embodiment of all these things.
THE OPPORTUNITY IN FRONT OF US
Like many of us, our students are most certainly feeling a lot of the emotions that I just described. They too are likely feeling uncertain, fearful, and are dealing with many of the same divisions that we all are. However, in our weakness, God is strong. And in the face of the weakness that has been demonstrated in our humanity over the last many months, we have the opportunity this Advent season to teach our students about a God who is strong in our weakness, and who is the perfect embodiment of hope, peace, joy, and love. We have the opportunity to help our students learn to embody those same characteristics in their own lives, as our Lord has called us to. So, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the opportunity that’s in front of us.
WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO…
1. TEACH OUR STUDENTS ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE INCARNATION
As we minister to our students, we often spend a lot of time (and rightfully so), focused on the amazing sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and the amazing miracle of the resurrection. However, before any of that, God the Son came to dwell with us. John 1:14 tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Perhaps, just as amazing to me as the sacrifice on the cross is the amazing truth that God the Son came to be with us. He came to walk with us, to feel with us, and to be the physical embodiment of all that God is . . . hope, peace, joy, love, and so much more. During this season, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us, to share with our students just how impactful the incarnation was and is to the world.
2. GUIDE OUR STUDENTS TOWARD LOVE AND SERVICE OF OTHERS
There is a lot of wonderful opportunity in front of us during this time of year. There are, during this season, a significant number of opportunities to serve others that are placed right in front of our faces. Nursing homes open themselves up for groups to come and sing or pass out gifts. Stores open themselves up for collections to be taken for charity. There are numerous opportunities that are right in front of our faces during this season. So why not use this season as an opportunity to put your students in a position where they can love and serve others in the community God has placed them in? Get your students out to a food pantry, or to a homeless shelter. Get them involved with a local clothing or gift drive for the families in need in your community. Point them toward some of the needs that might exist in their own neighborhoods. This season, where we emphasize love and incarnation can be an opportunity to help your students begin the process of living out these same characteristics; characteristics that will need to continue to be fostered long after this season of Advent concludes.
3. BETTER CONNECT OUR STUDENTS WITH OUR CHURCHES
This season serves as a great opportunity for the church to deepen its fellowship. With the many times of celebration and reflection that churches participate in during this season, there are many opportunities to come together and deepen our fellowship. With that in mind, take this season as an opportunity to connect your students with some of what your church is doing. Get them connected with that church Christmas caroling trip. Invite them to that church Christmas party. Get them involved with the Advent recitations and candle lightings. Really, just make sure they are being given the opportunity to connect with the special things your church is doing. It will provide them with great opportunities to share in the meaningful traditions that your church may have and experience how God is moving in the lives of the men and women of your congregation.
AN AMAZING SEASON OF OPPORTUNITY
This season really is an amazing time in the life of the Church. It is a season where we get to celebrate one of the most amazing things that has ever happened. It is a time where we get to reflect upon some pretty great things . . . hope, peace, joy and love! And it’s a time where we get to reflect on just how amazing it was that God the Son came to walk among us. Again, there’s a lot of tough stuff going on right now. But this season, if nothing else, as our students look around and see those things, gives us a tremendous opportunity to lead them toward something better. It can give us the opportunity to speak hope into hopelessness, peace into confusion, joy into anger, and love into hate. What an amazing time of year this is for the church. Let’s not allow our students to miss out on just how amazing it is.
MATT LARKIN serves as the Director of the Department of Student & Family Ministries for the Advent Christian General Conference (WWW.ACGC.US).In that role, he serves as a resource and consultant to youth workers and college students around the United States and globally. You can connect with Matt on Twitter via @MATTWLARKIN.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.