November 27, 2022
“All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
‘Come, let us climb the LORD's mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.’
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!”
This weekend, we enter the season of expectation. The first couple of weeks of Advent set the expectation of a new age, a transformation by the intervention of God in human history. The second half of Advent prepares us for birth of the messiah, the one who ushers in the new age, a baby who unexpectedly is God entering human history. We anticipate the joy of the birth of Jesus, the joy of gathering with family and friends, and the joy of giving and receiving gifts. We have something to look forward to: a new age, a new beginning, with ones we love, filled with generosity and blessings. It’s a season that warms our hearts and fills our lives with faith, hope, and love. It is a season of joy and of happiness. We are just beginning, but it is the most wonderful time of the year.
Through many different studies, multiple sources have identified three keys to human happiness. They are: something meaningful to do, people to love, and something to look forward to. With all due respect to research, this doesn’t seem like news to me. I know we can get enticed by many other pursuits, distracted by entertainment, or misaligned with our priorities, but what we do, who we love, and what we look forward to are essential to our happiness, or our fulfillment, as human beings. It is how God made us. This season is about what we look forward to, in the immediate hope for the birth of the messiah, the ushering in of a new age, and God’s once and continuing intervention in human history, but our faith is also focused on who we love and expanding both the depth and breadth of our loving, as well as, the meaningful things we do, sacrificing for the good of others, making a difference in this world, and, even, doing small things with great love, which imbues them with meaning, purpose, and significance. This season and our faith highlight the essentials of human fulfillment. If you want a life well lived, filled with happiness and fulfillment, follow in the footsteps of Jesus. He will give you something meaningful to do, people to love, and something, even eternal, to look forward to.
As we enter this Advent season, we do look forward to and anticipate Christmas. Our expectation is building. It is a key to our happiness. It is also a season of charity, of having something meaningful to do. Our generosity seeks to meet the needs of others in personal and significant ways. Finally, we come home for the holidays, being with the people who matter the most and whom we love. May this Advent season give us something meaningful to do, time spent with the people we love, and a look forward toward joy and celebration. It is the most wonderful time of the year.