One of my favourite authors continues to be Eugene Peterson, whose voice we hear through his writings, even though he himself has wrapped up his earthly life. He put together a prayer book entitled “Seeking God’s Face” and in it he does an introduction to Advent that I think is brilliant. It says what I’d want to say, so I invite you to listen to his voice instead. This is Advent.
Advent (from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival”) is the four-week season of preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. A good celebration requires proper preparation for us to fully enjoy it. During December, however, we mostly confuse helpful readiness for the hustle of Christmas shopping, parties, and preparation. The Advent season, more reflective in nature, can feel out of sync with all this noise and busyness.
John the Baptist has always felt like the right person to get me ready for Christmas - he’s the anti-Santa needed for our day. Trade the jolly laugh for an in-your-face intensity, the twinkle in the eye for a wildness about to interrupt your life, commanding our attention but always re-directing it towards Jesus. “Prepare the way for the Lord” is the Advent call to get ready for the coming Messiah.
But how do you prepare for a surprise? More than just remembering Christ’s first arrival, Advent hopes for Christ’s second coming. Advent is a season of expectant waiting, tapping into the sense we have that all is not well, the longing for the world to be made right again. It’s a season for restless hearts and people weary of a broken world who want, with all our being, to know there’s more than this.
Advent cultivates in us a discerning eye, helping us to spot the sin that clutters our lives and notice all the ways we need to be saved. By helping us to hope intensely for restoration, to feel our own need to be saved, Advent prepares us for genuine Christmas joy and faith in the One who saves us from our sin, Jesus. (Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible Through the Year)
How will you traverse Advent and prepare for Christmas this year? I think this is a great moment to re-assess what we’ve done in the past, since many of the things generally preoccupying us and distracting us are out of the picture. So – why not pull out 4 purple candles and a book to help you focus this Advent? Why not spend some time in quiet, reflecting on your hopes and praying for God’s coming restoration of our world?
Check our website for Advent reflection suggestions, including an excellent one guiding you daily through Advent by Sheralyn Janson. Or pick up a hard copy of an Advent reflection booklet from the church. We are here to support you and cheer you on.
Blessings in this season of waiting.