Advent is a time of soul preparation leading up to the celebration of the coming of Christ. Each Advent week has a different theme: hope, faith, peace, love. The coming of Jesus fulfills them all.

• Christ is our hope—not just for the future, but He offers his presence to joyfully empower us for today.

• Christ came in love. John 3:16 affirms that God is a good Father who lovingly sent Jesus to make forgiveness possible. He is not an angry judge just waiting for us to fail. Christmas is meant to be a reminder of the tender love of God.

• Christ is our peace. When the angels proclaimed peace, they weren’t just talking about a distant future when all would be well. We are invited to receive the presence of Christ so his peace is dominant in our hearts today.

How can we daily experience peace, hope and love, regardless of what may be swirling around us? Faith. Specifically, faith in the character of God.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate what I mean.

Many years ago, I went through a period where someone was saying terrible things about me. One night I sat in the car with my best friend and told her that my husband and I had decided that if the situation didn’t soon resolve, we would ask an older couple in the church to mediate. She burst out, “Yes! Because they are godly people and they will know you are right!”

I had just enough objectivity to say, “You know you have only heard my side, right?”

She replied, “Yes, but I know you, and I know you would never do anything like that.”

The issue was eventually resolved without mediation and it has faded in my memory, but my friend’s faith in me that night is still vivid. It has become the basis of my understanding of faith in God. This is how I want to be loyal to God. There may be situations I don’t understand . . . I may see injustice and tragedy . . . but I know God and I know He is good, and I can be confident of His character even when I don’t have access to all the facts.

So, this Christmas, as you think about the Christ (who is God with Us),
. . . I pray that you will become more and more convinced of His love.
. . . that you will have genuine encounters with God, so you feel you truly know Him, and can have faith in His character,
. . . and that knowing will lead to a deep peace and lasting hope.

Merriest of Christmases to you!