Advent is dark and cold. Over all the world itís dark and cold.
One dreams of peace and friendship. But battle and fights everywhere.
(Svenska Psalmboken 609:1)

A large part of the world goes toward a darker time, where thereís autumn and winter. The Swedish Churchís Advent and Christmas season texts talk of the arrival of light. How do these go together?
I believe it has to do with the circumstances under which we live. Times are changing.
The world is characterized by political unrest and many want to see changes in country after country. People are on the run and war and conflicts continue. The situation isnít so different from when Jesus was born.
In these dark and troubled times comes the message of hope of the arrival of light.
Then as now.
The story of Jesus gives us hope for a better world and the end of unrest. The key is for us to hear the message to include each other and not be afraid of one another. That is what Jesus taught and lived.
Jesus opens for us a new image of God. A new relationship that is more human, closer and easier. God becomes a man in Jesus and suddenly the far away God is as close as a little child. What is there to fear? Vulnerable, naked, exposed in a stable.
We receive a new image of God and a new belief in Jesusí presence. God becomes the beloved father, the one who breaks the patterns of society, who himself becomes a refugee, and comes to us poor and vulnerable on a donkey.

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Advent is dark and cold. We light a candle and pray.
God, have mercy on the world, on all despair, all distress you see.

(Svenska Psalmboken 609:2)

Jesus preaches a message of love where our relationship with each other becomes important. It is in the way we live that God is revealed. When we have respect for each other we fulfill the words of the prophets.
Jesus challenges us all and shows us the way as the bearer of light. One and all are the answer. One and all can contribute. No one is better than anyone else. He does everything he can to make us understand how loved we are. Our differences are an asset and even necessary for the world to work. There is nothing to be afraid of.
Imagine if we dare to think this is so. That all our human attempts to understand our existence, in politics and religious ideologies, are only attempts, and when they result in the oppression of others because of differences, it is not of goodness. That which closes and locks doesnít have a future. That which opens gives hope.
It has been many years since Jesus walked on this earth. Why is change happening so slowly?
It may seem so. Nevertheless, much has happened and the development that you and I have experienced in our own lifetimes is astonishing. Many have it better as the world comes closer together through advances in technology. To come closer together increases understanding for each other and reduces the fear of our differences. Much of the good development around human rights and gender issues has gained inspiration from Jesusí message. In our time the environment is in focus. Godís creation for us to guard.
So let yourself be inspired by the messages of Advent and Christmas. Let them be the hope and something that you with your life help to fulfill.

Advent is waiting for Christ: Come oh lord, come here soon.
And teach us to take each otherís hand and live together in peace.

(Svenska Psalmboken 609:3

Godís blessings and all good wishes to you,

Pether StrŲm Broman
Kyrkoherde, New York

For more info, See www.svenskakyrkan.se/newyork or, Peter StrŲm Broman: Pastor at the Swedish Church, Manhattan