The advent wreath originated in northern Europe in the deep of winter where people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen as a sign of hope for the warm and longer days of spring. It wasn’t until the 1900’s that German immigrants brought the tradition to America. The circle of the wreath symbolizes ongoing eternal life, the presence of God that has no beginning or no end. The purple candles represent faith, peace and love. The pink candle, the last one lit, represents joy. And the Christ candle in the middle will be lit at the candlelighting service on Christmas eve.
And now, we light the candle of faith.
The journey of faith is a spiritual awareness that’s based on eternal Truth. Faith is our ability to believe in something that’s not yet demonstrated. It is trusting in God’s will – that is always for good. Hebrews 11:1 reads, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Revealing Word, our metaphysical dictionary defines faith as a deep inner knowing that what is sought is already ours for the taking.I love Ghandi’s definition of faith: Faith is nothing but a living, wide-awake consciousness of God.
After twenty years of driving school buses for the county transit system, John thought he’d seen everything. But one cold December day changed all of that. He was worrying about how he was going to pay his bills, buy Christmas presents. It was about ten degrees and was trying to snow. Every time John opened the bus door, a blast of cold air slapped him in the face.
He stopped at a private boys’ high school, and the students pushing and shoving, stumbled to the back of the bus. A few stops later, John pulled up in front of the Milwaukee County Medical Complex grounds where a woman was waiting in the bus shelter. She looked to be about forty years old and pregnant, her dingy gray coat tattered from collar to hem. When she pulled herself up the steps of the bus, John noticed she was wearing only socks, no shoes. “Good Lord, woman, where are your shoes?” he blurted out without thinking. “Get on in here and off that cold sidewalk!” The high school kids in the back started in. “Hey, lady, nice coat!” “That a Saks Fifth Avenue special?” John felt like strangling them. The woman sat up straight in her seat and smoothed the wrinkles in her coat. “Sure is. I got eight kids. Had enough money this year to buy shoes for every one of ’em, but that was it. I got some slippers at home, but I didn’t want to get ’em all wet in case it snowed.”
John kept the conversation going. “Yep. It ain’t easy with Christmas and all. Money’s scarce. And the woman replied, “Mister, you just be glad you got a place to live and a job. I’ve got faith the good Lord will take care of you. Always has for me.” John couldn’t believe that a woman who didn’t have any shoes was telling him to stop worrying. Before long, the bus was at the end of the line, time for the kids to get off to go to their comfortable homes. As the boys filed off, Frank, a freshman who had been sitting just a few seats behind the woman in the gray tattered coat, stopped in front of her and handed her his new leather sport shoes, saying, “Here, lady, you take these. You need ’em more than I do.”
And with that, he, walked off the bus and into the ten degree evening in his stocking feet. As the woman tried on the shoes she let out a whoop and a holler. “Why, they fit perfect!. Bless the Lord. Mister, I told you not to worry ‘bout nothin’. Don’t you see? The Lord always provides. Always.” On a bus heading west, John’s faith in God and in mankind was completely restored by a woman wearing a tattered coat and a very expensive pair of sport shoes.
And now in faith, let’s start our advent journey and hear the events that led up to the birth of the Christ child.In Unity, we look at the Christmas story metaphysically – beyond the physical. What is beyond the words written on the page? What does it mean to me in my life? Rev. Ed Townley shared these interesting thoughts. “Some say the story metaphysically is about the birth of the Christ, but that’s not possible. The Christ is the Light and Love of God that’s present in each of us.
It is our spiritual identity, the creative power of God seeking to express through us. It is as eternal as God – it cannot be born. What can be born is our awareness of our true Christ nature. And what can be, and is, reborn every Christmas is our personal surrender. It’s about allowing more of the Christ to begin to express through us. Metaphysically, what we celebrate each Christmas is the birth of Christ awareness.
Now, let us hear the words from Luke 1:26-35.
Mary was just a young teenager in this little town called Nazareth, in the hills of Galilee. She came from a poor but honorable family. They tell us her parents Joachim and Anne, were old and childless. At the age of 3, Mary was dedicated to God at the temple and stayed there until she was 12..
In those days, a girl was betrothed when she reached her teens, and was usually married within a year. Mary came out of the temple, and next thing she knew, she was engaged to be married. Mary was betrothed to Joseph, a hard-working carpenter. Every Jewish girl prayed to be the mother of this Messiah. But Mary was just a poor girl from a humble family; she sure didn’t have any great expectations that her life was going to be any different from her mother's or the other women in her town.
Metaphysically, the Mary in each of us is a soul that’s pure, highly intuitive, and open to inspiration. The part of us that’s ready for spiritual growth and has an open heart. Mary also represents divine love within each one of us. The angel Gabriel came to her and said, “Greetings favoured one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary.” But she was confused and scared.
What did the angel mean by this? We can understand her confusion because aren’t we often afraid of the unknown. We want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and the next day. We want it all planned out. This feels safe to us. So I invite you to remember what Mary symbolizes in each of us – a soul that’s open to inspiration, that is intuitive, that listens to the messages within. That rests in the openness of not having to know.
Mary also represents divine love within each one of us. The love that reaches beyond all the obstacles we think we might see. I invite you to be aware where you’re seeing obstacles in your life. Mary represents the love that is open to the possibility of good that’s in every situation. This love is gentle – from this divine love comes a deep faith and understanding of who we truly are. We are able to say – I am a child of God.
The virgin birth can have metaphysical meaning for us. Mary represents this pure consciousness necessary for us to become aware of our Christ nature. The virgin birth is the dawning of Truth in our individual consciousness..
And let’s not forget Joseph. Even though his words aren’t recorded, he had an important role to play. Matthew 1:20 reads: “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Can you even begin to imagine how much faith that must have taken to believe that….
Joseph symbolizes all aspects of the thinking nature. Metaphysically, Joseph is the part of us that needs to understand everything intellectually, yet once understood can make wise decisions. This also protects and supports our spiritual growth process. And because he hears and responds to the angel’s messages, he also symbolizes wisdom.
The Joseph of you and me brings the strength and wisdom that guides God’s divine love that’s seeking expression through us, as us. Sometimes others tell us this spiritual path we’re on isn’t the right one. But deep within, we know it is right for us. Trust the Joseph in you to nourish, comfort, protect and guide you.
Mary and Joseph represent love and wisdom – what an awesome combination! And as Mary and Joseph had faith in God and the blessing they were about to receive, let us put our faith in the blessings that are here for us right now – the blessings of faith, peace, love and joy. Have faith in God and yourself as we begin this sacred Advent journey to the rebirth of the awareness of the Christ within.