Column — Let’s count down together

Published 10:56 am Friday, December 3, 2021

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Have you ever heard the song, “The Final Countdown” from 1986’s band, Europe? The vast majority of the song seems like the band is just repeatedly saying, “It’s the final countdown. The final countdown. The final countdown (final countdown) Oh.”

We have come to the season of countdown. This past Sunday, Nov. 28, began the season of Advent. Advent is a countdown for us as we look forward to Christmas.

The word “advent” is from the Latin word for “coming” and was created as a countdown toward Christmas celebrations where we traditionally recognize the birth of Jesus. Was Jesus actually born on Dec. 25? Most likely no, but this was the date selected in hopes of having followers from all over the world celebrate together. While people argue over certain items of Christmas from the date to the reasons, gift giving to whether Xmas is biblical or not (by the way, the “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Christós…Greek: Χριστός, which became Christ in English…but that’s a whole ‘nother devotion and sermon series).

A tradition several churches continue is the weekly lighting of a candle. You take five different candles with each candle representing a part of celebrating what this Christmas season is all about…not gifts or trees or parties. This first candle/the first week of Advent is hope. This week of hope is to remind us of the hope we have in The Messiah…Jesus.

A man named Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” As we count down to Christmas Eve night, our hope will continue even beyond then knowing God is where all our strength and help comes from.

This hope is not a wish as in “I hope I don’t get underwear from grandma this year” or “I hope the Hokies hire a great coach to bring us back to better football” or even “I hope I don’t gain so much weight from all this food I will be eating up over the next month. This hope we long for is a sure thing.

The hope God alone can give is not a wish…it’s a locked in promise for all who are living as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Each week we will celebrate this season of advent together as we countdown together. May I pray for us? Holy God, with great hope, we have begun this advent season. As we count down the days until Christmas, may we never forget the true hope You alone can give. We place all we are in You. Because of Jesus, amen.

Rev. J. Cameron Bailey is pastor of Kenbridge Christian Church. He can be reached at