Advent: Images, Symbols, Practices, and Patterns Reminding Me there Must Be More!

The Christian story is more than an idea. 

It’s a way of life. 

A way of life anticipated and enunciated through the Advent Season’s images and symbols.

A robust imagination is elemental for a vibrant walk with Christ. By definition, imagination is “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.”

The Advent season is a season during which my imagination takes flight.

When is the last time you engaged your imagination? 

Imagination is not day-dreaming. That glassy-eyed, weak-brained moment in your day when you drift into a world not your own, as the person you wish you were, in a place you’d rather live.

Imagination takes effort. It requires self-discipline, an inner-lean toward delighting in truth, and an openness to see or experience reality in all its fullness.

C.S. Lewis once wrote:

“Reason is the natural organ of truth, but imagination is the organ of meaning.”

In other words, imagination is most powerful when it’s tethered to the truth. Truth is most empowering when it’s animated by imagination.

That’s why I love the Advent Season.

The Advent Season is saturated with proclamations of truth animated by the power of imagination.

The Gospel pronouncements of God’s-coming-to-earth, anticipate, celebrate, and enunciate a biblical imagination steeped in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Consider (better yet – reflect, meditate, chew on) the voice of Isaiah:

“For a child has been born for us,

    a son given to us;

authority rests upon his shoulders;

    and he is named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His authority shall grow continually,

    and there shall be endless peace

for the throne of David and his kingdom.

    He will establish and uphold it

with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

The Prophet’s words color the canvas, painting a picture of wonder, awe, hope, and joy.

It takes quite an imagination to envision endless peace during these days of conflict, turmoil, and strife!

Yet that’s exactly the reality the Advent Season invites us to experience!

These words proclaim a new reality is coming. One in which a new way of life is available to all.

More than ever before, we need to reconsider the proclamations celebrated during the Advent season.

May they capture our imagination in a way that the richness of God’s eternal truth enlivens our most heart-shaping hopes.

Advent begins early this year – November 29th.

COVID-19 is still here. 

Political corruption, Constitutional Chaos, and media bias are still here.  They lack imagination. Let’s not allow them to steal ours.

I sense a fundamental problem of the modern-day Christians is anemic imaginations!

Join me on a journey this Advent season as we reimagine the life God empowers us to live!

I invite you to reflect on the following quote.  It may help stimulate your imagination and ground you in the fullness of the truth pronounced this time of year!

“The Christian life is not an idea, a disembodied set of thoughts one must think each day. The Christian life is a way of life, a way of being and doing in the world. The New Testament calls it “the way.” That means we take up practices and patterns of life, like mindfulness, through which we are formed more and more into Christlikeness, and, with God, bear fruit for the world.”  ~Amy G Oden

Image, Symbol, Practice, and Patterns each offer insight into the truth Advent proclaims.  Truth often remains unseen.  That’s where a biblical imagination comes into play!

I will reflect on some overtly religious Images, Symbols, Practices, and Patterns throughout the Advent season.  As I do, I will highlight the biblical imagination behind them so that the truth within them becomes clear. 

Some I will consider are:

  • The Christian Calendar (particularly as the “new year”).
  • The Candle/Fire and lights.
  • The Christmas Star/Angelic Hosts.
  • The shepherds’ staff.

There are many more than these few.  I am exploring some of the obvious ones because I suspect they no longer stir the imagination to envision the new world they are designed to reveal.