What Can I Do for You, Lord?
My soul magnifies the LORD,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
– Luke 1:46b-55
Here I am at Christmas, once again caught up in the hustle and bustle. I’ve focused much time on gifts, goodies and good times. Preparation… there’s been a lot of preparation for the days to come which will be spent with family and friends. So at times, the real meaning of Advent gets lost for a bit, pushed back into the recesses of my mind. And, I’m glad now for the opportunity to reflect.
When I think about Advent and preparation I am inspired by the candles themselves. The first candle is the candle of Hope. With that, for me, Advent begins with a renewed commitment to Christ and my focus to continually turn away from sin and self-centeredness, a reminder I need often. It’s only in Christ that I can have hope, for without the saving grace and mercy of Jesus, I would be a lost and doomed soul.
The candle of Peace prompts me to pray, fervently, talking to our Prince of Peace about my own personal fears and doubts and about our chaotic world. During the last few weeks, we’ve been reminded in the Old Testament readings about the pleas of Israel for God to deliver a Messiah who comes in strength and majesty, a great one who shall bring peace. And I have to admit that I pray continually for the Messiah to come again, to restore our world and bring peace everlasting.
Joy, it’s a time to celebrate; give, share, sing, pray and enjoy fellowship. It’s a time to remember that we are never alone; Emmanuel, God with us… even in our darkest wilderness.
And finally, the fourth week is about Love. What love the Father has, that God gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. When I think of all that Christ has done for me and continues to do, I am humbled to my core. And in my humbleness and gratitude, I find myself asking God in prayer, "Lord, what can I do for you today? What can I do for this one day?"
Throughout the Advent season this year, this has been my daily prayer. Lord, what can I do for you? And always the answer comes back to me… be hope and give hope. Be peace and act peacefully. Be joyful and bring joy wherever you go. Be love and be loving in all you say and do in Christ’s name.
The last candle is the Christ candle. It's always such a moving experience during the Christmas Eve Service when, in total darkness, the light of Christ enters in and one by one we share that light of hope, peace, joy and love with one another until the sanctuary is lit up ablaze like it must have been during Pentecost with the flames of the Holy Spirit. The Christ candle: for the child born into us, light of the world, God's greatest gift to us.
Referring to the scripture for today from Luke 1:46-55, now is the time to bring Christmas into the world to stay. Now is the time to remember that God continually looks upon me, a lowly servant, with favor and that there nothing I can do to separate me from the love of God in Christ. Now is the time to celebrate that God came in strength and power, so much so that the world was forever changed. Now is the time to remember the present we receive through the continued presence of God who fills our souls. Now is the time to remember that God is merciful and full of grace, promising us eternal life. Now is the time to remember Christ.
And what does God require of us? Just ask! On this fourth Sunday in Advent, let us pray, "What can we do for you today, Lord?" And then let’s really listen to God’s response.
May you be truly blessed this season with spiritual growth and renewal and may God grant you hope, peace, joy and love!