Sometimes it’s hard to know if you are coming or going - perhaps it’s both! Maybe it’s tough to know the difference because it’s a confused and confusing world that doesn’t deal well with endings and isn’t sure when a beginning has occurred. When have you arrived? Where are you going? We do not know what is coming with the certainty we all crave. What do you hope or think might be coming? Advent is a term linked to adventure in that it is ‘towards a venture’. In that sense, it hints of risk, excitement and some uncertainty but taken for itself, it simply means ‘the arrival of a notable person or thing’. You could say that the sun rising at dawn heralds a daily advent and so life is one continuous series of advents as preludes to the final adventure. Could you accept life as a series of beginnings rather than a series of endings? So here’s a light to reflect on that idea.
- ‘Every year we celebrate the holy season of Advent, O God. Every year we pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting, and sing those lovely songs of hope and promise’ - Karl Rahner
- ‘Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming’ - David Bowie
- ‘You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming’ - Pablo Neruda
- ‘It doesn't matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going’ - Brian Tracy
There was a time when you did not exist - then along came conception and you were on your way. You then had about nine months to prepare for your own advent. Behind the scenes, you were taking shape, your organs were getting ready for external action but your heart had already started pumping at 22 days. Your emergence into the light of day put you centre stage for a short time. Fast forward 18 years to when you’ve come of age and you’ve pumped over 13 million gallons of blood already. We don’t know how old Joseph and Mary were when she carried the embryo of Jesus but there is a lot we do know about this Advent of the one whose developing fetus was both human and divine. His birth started the clock towards the cross and began turning the pages on the calendar of hope for humanity. What does Advent mean to you?
- ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel’ - Micah 5:2
- ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned … For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ - Isaiah 9:2,6
- ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins … The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means God with us’ - Matthew 1:20-21, 23
- ‘Jesus Christ, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father’- Philippians 2:6-11
The birth of Jesus was signposted in the Old Testament as the coming cosmic event. It drew worship from shepherds, questions from Joseph and wonder from Mary. It was attested by angels and wise men. It created a stir in Jerusalem amongst the ruling authorities. It brought hope to you and gave glory to God. Traditionally, the season of Advent began on 1st December as churches lit candles, households put Christmas Candle Bridges in their front windows and families opened their Advent Calendars in the build up to the Christmas Day celebrations of Christ’s birth. Nowadays people either begin it earlier or ignore it. Once you begin yours, whatever time of year, keep the light burning in your heart for it marks the countdown to both the First and the Second Advent of Christ.
‘Like a candle flame flickering small in our darkness, uncreated light shines through infant eyes.
Stars and angels sing yet the earth sleeps in shadows, can this tiny spark set a world on fire?
Yet his light shall shine from our lives, Spirit blazing, as we touch the flame of his holy fire’
The Candle Song by Graham Kendrick - 'The Candle song' (Like a candle flame) | Lyrics - YouTube
- ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that’ - Martin Luther King Jr
Let this light shine brightly in and through your life as the Advent of Christ Jesus lights your way and dispels darkness around you.
TAGS – Christmas, joy, good news, peace, goodwill, glad tidings, manger