I love Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, specifically the four weeks before, the start of the Church calendar.
I love the anticipation, the excitement, the decorations, doing “christmassy” things like eating too much and drinking mulled wine and eating mince pies and seeing family and friends but I also love it from a Christian perspective and not just a secular one, because it means our Emmanuel – our God with us – is coming.
Christians celebrate the arrival of Jesus’ birth every year, but the four weeks preceeding the main event are very special as we prepare, yet again for his arrival. Of course Jesus has already arrived but every year we get to remember it again and go into the new year renewed in hope and love.
This year I have prepared by reading “Advent for Everyone” by Tom Wright. I found it really useful to consider the Gospel of Matthew and learn more about what waiting means for us now. Tom Wright uses the helpful analogy of a bicycle wheel to think of the church calendar – although we repeat the same things throughout of the year in a cyclical fashion we are not static – a bicycle wheel moves forward and as Christinas that is what we aim for – to grow in understanding and love.
2016 has been hard, hard on the world as a whole and hard on a lot of individuals that I know. Syria and the news that comes out of there has been devastating, the global refugee crisis with so many displaced, incidents of racism on the rise, homelessness, poverty…it goes on. It seems as though the scarcity myth has won out in recent times, a lot of people are believing that there isn’t enough to go around; not enough money, not enough love, not enough time, not enough understanding. They seem to have turned inward, wanting to only help themselves and those that are like them. The world has seemed very selfish, dark and scary at points this past year.
Advent reminds us to have hope, that the light, the light of the world is coming once again and that actually there is enough in Jesus; enough love, enough patience, enough compassion, enough hope, enough good – to heal us as individuals and to heal the world.
A lot of people mock this idea. The Church and Christians have got it so wrong for so long. Examples of Jesus?! Ha.
This is of course true. Here’s the thing about our God and our Jesus though, they expect us to do better, to learn, to be. to be the light of the world. We are given this responsibility to be shining examples of Jesus’ love out in the world. We are to help bring about God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven”.
This is why I love Advent, because every year we have the opportunity to wait, to think, to learn, to grow.
Hope, joy and peace to all humankind.