In recent years, it feels like much of the world is living the “end times” drama described in ancient scriptures, 19th century utopian writings, and numerous adventure films. In recent years, hurricanes and raging fires are more frequent and violent; school shootings are far too commonplace; threats of war, racial tension, and economic disparity abound. Although this may feel new, human drama and tension are nothing new. Pompeii stands as a reminder of earth’s volcanic power; holocaust museums memorialize the depth of human sorrow when human cruelty rules the day. New or old, tough times are never easy. The unpredictable reality in which we live can be frightening. But God’s presence remains steadfast with us throughout these shifting sands. When we call upon God to restore us and shine Christ’s face upon us, we are preparing to receive Christ’s presence. This weekend, we enter a season the church has labeled "Advent," a time to prepare for the "coming" or arrival of the Christ child on Christmas day. One of Advent's most powerful messages is a wake-up call to pay attention. In this season, we are invited to wake up from our normal routines and look for the face of God. Surprise! God is actually with us! We prepare for Christmas and the celebration of Christ's arrival by turning our faces upward in order to receive the shining light of God’s face. We prepare by turning our attention to Christ’s teachings that we may receive the ancient wisdom of God’s love. Just think of the dramatic change we can bring by focusing on God’s light and Christ’s love. Imagine how God the potter can re-form us and mold us ever more closely into the shape of God’s image, the shape we were created to be and become. This is the message of Advent, the meaning of Christmas, and the purpose of walking on the Jesus way: to live as if we really knew that Emmanuel, "God-with-us" is not only in our midst but in our very selves. In this image, we were created, we are created, and we are creating. Shine with this image, and it will be a very merry Christmas indeed.