I’ve seriously loved the journey towards Christmas this year more than most. I’ve discovered in a new deeper and fuller way. Having to preach our Advent Carol Service and then having designed our Resource Night to lean into this, means I *really looked up close. People have agitated me to post my best take-aways from my thinking about this, this year……So here goes!
My advent manifesto is best captured as, ‘ready, steady,…..wait!’
Each year, during the season of Advent, the church sets off on a journey. We begin to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the Christ-child, so that this time he will have a proper place to be born.
Are we preparing our hearts and spirits to receive again the coming of the Christ child into the world? Or are we preparing for yet another month-long shopping spree that some have called “economic first-degree murder.” If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the consumer Christmas – I firmly believe that we can easily find that instead of preparing to sing “O Holy Night” we will find ourselves living out one unholy nightmare.
Advent is worth lingering over – for Advent invites us to fill the cup of today with a full measure of tomorrow.
The Bible reveals that the Advent of God is much more about surprise than predictability, more about revelation than decoration. But the message of Advent is not “Put up the decorations! Here I come!” but slowly “Watch and wait!
Christmas will come whether we get ready for it or not. Christ will come whether we’re ready or not. Ready-or-not, here comes King Jesus!
Advent is a season of preparation for the coming of Christ…but it’s a case of ready – steady – wait!
What’s hard to take about prophets is what they say about the PRESENT. And what they say about the present is almost always, “You’ve got it wrong! You’d better repent!”
Priestly life seeks to uphold the status quo. “God’s in His Heaven, all’s right with the world. Prophetic faith invites repentance and change. Priestly religion comforts the afflicted. Prophetic faith afflicts the comfortable.
Advent is the time to renew our connection with the only One who can truly comfort us.
Light and movement is what God wants for us his people… Not shadows or darkness… frustration or stuckness. Light and movement is what God wants for His people.
Matthew describes the gift of the season of Advent with a single word, my personal favourite of all the “Christmas words” – Emmanuel, God with us. Not God HAS BEEN with us; not God WILL BE with us; but God WITH us, right now! Proximity, nearness and NOW!
God invites us to live in the present in expectation and awareness of the fact that eternal realities can and do break in at any moment.
Are we passively waiting, or are we “walking in the light of the Lord” while we actively await his coming?
Advent challenges us to hear and believe the promise of Emmanuel, God with us. Here, now – and for you… Not shadows or fear. That challenge doesn’t call us to be so heavenly-minded that we’re no earthly good, to become so starry-eyed over the future that we overlook the present.
Advent reminds us that God often breaks in to our lives unexpectedly. We cannot know the time or the day of our next encounter with the holy. Neither can we predict whether that meeting will be a joyful experience of forgiveness and peace, a call to repentance and responsibility. I will wait well this Advent.
Advent is crazed with contradictions. There’s holiness and depth if we linger a while.
The First Advent is the coming of Christ to earth (incarnation). The Second Advent is the birth of Christ in each one of us on earth (conversion). The Third Advent is the final return of Christ to earth (consummation). As we await the First Advent, we should not be counting out minutes, hours, or days. Rather we should be feeling a ground-swell of kairos expectation. Remember, Advent is revelation more than decoration…
Christians who “clothe” themselves in Christ are “armoured” for the battles of the Second Advent. Living in the overlap, the “in-between times” of the new age between “now” and “not yet,” there are real and true powers of darkness that walk among us. This is Kingdom tension. So how does Advent suggest that we prepare?
1. Repentance — forsake the sins of the world for a godly way of life. 2. Prayer — pray for the coming of Christ, for he shall save. 3. Patience — his coming may be delayed. Watch and wait, for his coming may be sudden.
In the midst of Advent, our season of great traditions, we receive this announcement of newness. Everything is going to need to change. The arrival of this baby changes everything. The incarnation changes everything…. Jesus changes everything.
Advent prepares us to receive the gift of actual “matter” that matters. Christmas is at its essence a “material” celebration. We can never again be matter-of-fact about matter.
The miracle of incarnation is that everything — heaven and earth, and all that live in heaven and earth will be “renewed,” that is, recreated and reborn.
Jesus’ arrival brings together matter and spirit, physicality and spirituality, and melds into one human vulnerability and divine victory.
Christian spirituality is always as much about dealing with each other as it is about dealing with God.
The gravity that pulls you down is no match for the grace that lifts you up.