‘May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (vv5–6) Romans 15:4–13
Many people use an Advent wreath and light a candle for each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The tradition is said to have been recommended by Martin Luther for families to use in their home as they instructed the family on the coming of Christ and encouraged them to live in hope and expectation of His return.
Others trace its origins to a German pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881) who, in 1829; built a wreath out of an old cartwheel to help the children in his mission school count the days until Christmas. He added small candles to be lit every weekday and Saturday during Advent and, on Sundays, a large white candle was lit.
We all respond to traditions in different ways. Indeed, we have developed language to describe our different approaches, such as ‘high church’ and ‘low church’. However, God looks not on the outward appearance, but on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Just as God unexpectedly chose David as king, so He also accepted his act of repentance after grave sin (2 Sam. 12:7–9).
God challenges us with His invitation to learn to live by faith and not by judgment. Even when we disagree, we are called to pray for those with whom we disagree, not to condemn them (Rom. 12:19).
As we go in search of God, let’s search our own hearts and confess to judgments we have made which alone belong to God.
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Psa. 24; Matt. 7:1–5; 15:1–20; Rom. 2:1–16.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: We are not called to judge on God’s behalf (Mark 9:38–41). Enter into a conversation and celebrate the shared hope you have, whilst learning to disagree well.
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, ’create in me a pure heart’ and ‘renew a steadfast spirit within me’. Amen.’ (Psa. 51:10–11).
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