Officially in the Church of England advent starts next Sunday, but because we have 3.5 weeks left at school we’re starting advent now. I’m not sure how many of you have got decorations up yet? If you’ve started to listen to the music, watched the films, bought the presents, wrapped the presents?
Advent is a time of preparation, preparing for the coming of a King. As with so many things we can take that to be a practical preparation, all the things I’ve listed above. Let’s face it, that’s what we are encouraged to do by the shops. However, it is important to remember that it is a time to prepare our hearts and our minds.
Throughout advent we tend to look at the Old Testament, where we can see that God is trying to prepare the world for Jesus. In Isaiah 40 it says
A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
The people knew that they were expecting a saviour, that the Lord was coming, but was Jesus what they were expecting? Probably not. The people were prepared but Jesus did not match up with their expectations.
Are you a present guesser? Or even a present finder? I used to search round my parents house finding presents before Christmas. One year I found two pairs of Wallace and gromit slipper socks, so I told my brother that we were each getting a pair of slipper socks. Christmas Day comes we are opening presents and… I get both pairs of slipper socks. My brother was gutted, because he thought he was getting a pair. It turns out if I had looked carefully I would have seen that they wouldn’t have fitted him anyway. So I had to by him a new pair of slipper socks from my Christmas money!
You might think that it’s silly to have a time of preparation for Christmas, afterlife we know the story, our faith is based on the belief that Jesus was born and turned out be the saviour that wasn’t expected.
But… do we get complacent about that? Do we truly recognise what that means? Or do we focus on the decorations, all the extra services, and the dinner?
We may understand what Christmas is celebrating but are we recognising what Jesus is still doing in our lives today, or what Jesus wants to do in and through us?
This is what advent is about, that reminder that we need to stop, and to prepare our hearts and minds to welcome Jesus again. We may have ideas or what God wants to do with us, or what we’d like God to do with us, but as we can see from the Christmas story, that we know so well, God doesn’t tend to go along the normal line, or do what we expect.
Bill McKibben said
“Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when
you’re running yourself.”
The theme this week is anticipation. Christmas seems to be filled with a false anticipation as there are people who are disappointed with presents that they open, disappointed with the reaction someone gives to a present, that the family time didn’t quite live up to the hype.
However, we can anticipate that God will work in our lives, and that it will be for good. We need to take this time in advent to put our own agendas and thoughts aside, but to anticipate that God will speak to us, if we take the time to listen.
Challenge: how can you practically take time each day during advent to listen to what God is saying to you?
Prayer: father God, we thank you that you continue to work in our lives today, may we take this advent time to stop, and listen, and welcome you in. Amen