Advent, when the cold air is laced with an increasing sense of anticipation.
Christmas is coming.
It may evoke excitement in you, stress, or fear of that dreaded family reunion – maybe all three. And there are few who can escape the steadily increasing cultural current of 'doing' that has come to define our Christmas season.As we begin Advent together and join with the worldwide church in celebration, it is my hope that this short piece might together encourage us to step out of the bustling city, peer into that lowly manger and gaze upon the face of our humble saviour.
This is Advent – A season of simplicity, set aside so that we might search for a Joy not found in the festivities of our culture, but in the face of a Child and in the hope of His glorious return.
The word itself, Advent, comes from the Latin term 'adventus' meaning coming, it signifies the short season that has long preceded the celebration of Christmas.A season intended to produce in the church a posture of preparation and of waiting, andit is here, as we wait in the shadow of the promise, that a holy anticipation begins to form.
Let it stir within your broken heart, soothe your pained soul, and as hope rises, let it overflow into celebration on that blessed Christmas morning - the culmination and foreshadow of our Saviours coming.
Advent as preparation
I'm sure you will be familiar with all the preparation that currentlydefines our Advent season.
A Preparing ofgifts, of food and the decoration of our homes.
You get it. Preparation - time consuming, expensive, and often stressful. Advent is just a little different.
Advent calls for a preparation of the heart. It is a season in which we ask ourselves, what distracts me from Christ? What keeps me from readily finding joy in His presence? Usually, these answers are contained in the many physical 'things' that we interact with during our lives.
Possessions, people, work…the list goes on.
Preparation for Advent looks like making space for the coming of Christ, that He might fill that which is empty in you;heal that which is broken in you and satisfy that which is lacking in you.
It is a time to clear out that which is not of Him and to put aside all that doesn’t cultivate His love in your life.
Advent is a time to journey into the peace of life made possible by the promise of our returning saviour.
Advent as a season of waiting
Cast your mind back to your 7 year old self. Do you remember the unbearable sense of anticipation of Christmas day? The celebration, the presents, and the food?
Perhaps you still feel that way!
Advent is a time to identify with that excitable child deep inside, a season to explore the conflicting emotions of excitement, and frustration. Emotionsnot caused only in the hope of a special gift on Christmas day, but in the season as we await our saviours return.
We live in a time of waiting for the eventual fulfilment of all things. We live in a time of the kingdom come, and the kingdom coming. Advent is a perfect season to explore the depths of this conflict. Like an excitable child enduring the almost painful wait till they burst out of bed on Christmas morning.
Looking back, so that we might look forward
Many parents will be familiar with Mary's own season of waiting and preparation before Jesus was born. That great and curious season of pain and hope before the birth of a child - that was Mary's Advent.
How about the Magi? Their advent looked like miles upon miles of travelling, following, and searching for the young Messiah.
Or John the Baptist looking towards the coming Christ? He was called to dwell in the wilderness and live in simplicity. Preparing himself in the quiet of the desert, and preparing Israel through baptism and repentance.
How sweet it must have been for Mary, to hold the saviour of the world in her arms. For the Magi to finally lay their tired eyes upon the infant king, and for John to embrace the man who's sandals he was too unworthy to untie.
In each case, it was the waiting, the preparation, and the simplicity that created space to welcome the saviour of the world into their hearts. Forsaking all, that they might receive the greatest gift ever given.
So, this Advent season, as you prepare, and as you wait, think of Christ - make space for Him in your life. Be brave, venture into the depths of your heart and let anticipation build for the greatest day of all. The returning of our beloved Saviour.
"Be brave, venture into the depths of your heart and let anticipation build for the greatest day of all. The returning of our beloved Saviour."
Blog written by Toby Everett
Toby loves Jesus, the Church and snowy mountainsides. He is in training for church ministry, has spent 3 years living in Canada and is a Belfrey small group leader in the 18-30's work at The Belfrey.