I always think that humans should get a whole lot more excited than they do about the season of Advent. After all, the word “Advent” means that something’s going to happen. And I don’t just mean that one of the chickens is about to lay an egg or I’m going to have another fly around the house. No, I’m referring to a celebration of the greatest thing ever to occur on our planet…
“Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.”
(C.S. Lewis: 1898-1963: Northern Irish author and Anglican lay theologian).
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas comes at a time when humans and nature are often struggling. The days are short and dark; the temperature plummets; in the world of humans, bills and the cost of living seem to soar; economic predictions become more dire; coughs and colds are doing the rounds; and the mood of humans can get quite low. And it’s at this very time, when Life seems to be particularly tough, that we have the opportunity to look forward to, and to celebrate the ultimate gift from God. Jesus didn’t simply come to Earth to see what life was like. He came to save us; to give us hope; to offer light in the darkness and warmth in the cold. To offer us the promise of life after death; peace after strife; eternity after a finite ticking clock; and in so many cases, to offer us love after rejection. So Advent should always be about expectation, excitement, promise and hope. Because our long-term outlook is about to be turned on its head. And it’s only when we view it like this that the season of Advent can really spring to life and become as relevant to us as the very air that we are breathing in to keep us all alive.
So why don’t humans get more excited at this time of year? Well, I think it’s because they’re all too busy with their busyness. Advent is a time to stop, to pause and to listen for the sound of the footsteps of God. You’ll never get to hear those footsteps if you’re forever charging around yourself. We all need the peace, the stillness and the darkness of a Winter’s night to allow us to listen and to focus properly. And maybe that’s how it was that those shepherds were able to see the angels dancing in the sky that night as they celebrated the birth of Jesus, Saviour to the world…
“The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. ‘Advent’ is the name of that moment.” (Frederick Buechner: 1926-2022: American author, Presbyterian minister, preacher and theologian.)
“At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving others with God’s own love and concern.” (St. Teresa of Calcutta: 1910-1997: Albanian Catholic nun who dedicated her life to helping the sick and poor of Calcutta, India).