Chelsea Van Der Poel explores how regardless the season, God's goodness creates a hopeful new day.
On the third day of Advent, 2021, Ellie Gunton captures the small moments that bring joy and show us God’s love and grace this Advent season.
Big and small signs
By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
Psalm 65:5-8 NRSV
As the sun begins to set on 2021, I am grateful.
Advent is my favorite time of year.
While for many, it is a very stressful season and we can get very caught up in the overwhelming amount of tasks still left to do before the big day, I always like to take a step back and appreciate how wonderful the feeling of Christmas can be.
Psalm 65:8 speaks of the awesome deeds of God. The mountains that God established. The waves God sets into motion. The sunset and sunrise that shout for joy. We are indeed awed by the signs. And Christmas is the biggest sign of all! The coming of the Christ Child, the embodiment of God’s love, a gift for us all.
But I am just as awed by the little signs of God’s love throughout the Advent season. The kind smile or the gatherings of friends, the little gifts that might not be worth much in price but have been given with such care and love that they become priceless. These small signs leave me with as much joy and as much awe as the great oceans and mountains.
In a year in which many of us have spent in lockdown, there may be a tendency to feel abandoned by God. But quite often, God’s love is not shown in huge choirs of angels filling the sky. It is the little gifts of love, and, I think, we see so many of them, at Christmas time. Christmas can seem like a lot of noise and preparation and very little reward. But it is the small moments, the smile of a child seeing a tall Christmas tree in the shopping centre, the world transformed into one where every light seems to twinkle, and every bird sings a Christmas carol.
These are the things that show us God’s love and grace. God’s power and majesty are just as wonderful in these small moments as they are in the big ones. I hope and pray, as we celebrate the dawning of a new year, that we can celebrate the new day and hope we have in the birth of Jesus. May you all see the signs, big and small, and find little pockets of joy in the gifts that God gives to us this season. Amen.
Ellie Gunton lives on Yuggera Country in Brisbane, Meanjin. Ellie is a student who has just completed her first degree: a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland, majoring in Gender studies and Archaeology. Ellie has a long history with social justice movements with a strong connection to the Uniting Church in Queensland. Ellie is thrilled to be invited to share her love for Jesus and his message of action and kindness with you this Christmas.
Thank you for this beautiful season of advent and for the blessings you give to us each and every day. May we learn to love and appreciate all of your gifts , be they big or small.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
Photograph: Helen Wright, Sunset, Cahill Lookout, Blue Mountains, Gundungurra and Darug Country, New South Wales
Visual Description: The sun is setting at the horizon in the distance, beyond the valley covered in trees. The golden light is wedged between the bushland and a layer of dense grey cloud underneath a light blue portion of sky.