“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.”
Luke 11:33

This year, we are offering an Advent Devotional, written by congregation members and staff of Memorial. Each day of Advent, beginning today and going through Christmas, you will receive a daily devotion by email. The entire collection will also be made available online.

The 2020 Advent Devotional arises from hearts longing for connection. Participants in our 2020 “Writers Guild” bring you words of light in the darkness that grows before yielding to the Light of the world.

DAY 1: NOVEMBER 29, 2020

Advent: Hope, Faith, Joy, Love and Peace

This summer I had the pleasure of leading the fourth and fifth grade children in the C.S. Lewis book series The Chronicles of Narnia, of which the most popular book is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The seven books contain some of Lewis’ best theology, and I enjoyed unpacking a few of the golden nuggets hidden within their pages with the children. If you are unfamiliar with the stories, they’re about children who discover a land of talking animals, mythical creatures and dancing trees. There they meet Aslan, the Great Lion, the son of the Emperor beyond the Sea. They are stories of creation, fall, sin, redemption, salvation, and sanctification. They are stories of hope, faith, joy, love, and peace.

In one of the lesser-known books, The Last Battle, the children Eustace and Jill, King Tirian, and his trusty steed Jewel (who happens to be a unicorn) realize they are fighting a battle they cannot win on their own. They pray to Aslan for strength and courage to face the end as they try to save their friend, a gentle donkey. They know that when they enter the stable it will likely mean their death, but when they get inside they find something unexpected. Their four cousins who discovered Narnia first are there along with Aslan and so much more! When they question how a place so large and beautiful could be inside such a small space, Lucy responds, “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

During Advent we are reminded of the greatest story ever told. A story of how love came down and was born a child and slept in a feed trough inside a stable. It’s the love story of God, of how God became incarnate as a child, grew into a man, worked with his hands, walked among us, and taught us how to live and then chose to give us the ultimate gift of love on the cross to redeem us from our sins. It is a story of hope, faith, joy, love, and peace.

Many times when we receive gifts, we hear a couple of phrases–“good things come in small packages,” and “the best gifts are gifts from the heart.”  Through Jesus, God has given us the greatest gift of love. In Ephesians 3:17-19, we read,

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

While our hearts are a small muscle that help keep our bodies functioning, the hearts of our souls are boundless. Our hearts our very much like the stable–something small that has the capacity to hold a love that knows no measure. It is this love that fuels our hope, our faith, and our joy, and which ultimately gives us peace. When we are filled with the love of God, we become “gifts of the heart” to others, sharing that love by taking care of the sick and poor, the widow and orphan, and the imprisoned. We offer hope by being a light in the darkness. We grow in faith and share it with others. And we can be a balm of peace to a broken and hurting world.

Yes, Lucy, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world. It was a gift from our Lord. The gift that keeps on giving and never ends, because God’s love is unfailing.

Merry Christmas.

Rev. Lynda Hepler