The season of Advent is upon once again, a time of preparing and waiting. Preparing and waiting for what I hear you thinking.
A re-run of classic TV greats?
Black Friday or the January sales?
The children to go to bed?
The Queen’s speech or maybe the in-laws going home? Actually, Advent is about waiting and preparing ourselves, our hearts, our homes to welcome the Christ child in. You might be thinking this is impossible since Jesus was born over 2000 years ago. Yet Jesus waits…he waits and longs for those who do not know him and His love for them to welcome him into their lives for the first time, and He waits for us to welcome him afresh.
Advent is the time to focus on this, rather than running ourselves into the ground, but that is what most of us will be doing. Few of us will pause and reflect and wonder on what the coming of Jesus as a small baby really means for us, not just 2000 years ago but today at the end of 2018. Will you?
If you do, ask yourselves how it makes you feel when you see the crib with Jesus lying in it. Are you filled with love and hope or do you simply, like many, dismiss it as a fairy tale?
What difference does knowing Jesus for real make to your life?
When we eventually reach Christmas Day, many of us will be surrounded by family; friends; gifts and food in abundance. Very different from the surroundings and experience of Mary and Joseph, a stable where animals found shelter, a feeding trough for a crib, straw for a mattress and what little food was offered them. The gifts we are told were that of a newborn lamb and later strange gifts from wise men. The first visitors, strangers from hillsides and distant shores.
Yet in this scene and in many homes this Christmas there will be that special gift, one not bought but given by God when he sent His Son to earth, the gift of LOVE. It is a priceless gift and one God gives to us all. Advent is the time we prepare and wait for the coming of this gift, Christmas is the time to celebrate and give thanks for its arrival in the form of Jesus.
The gift of love is precious and we all need to know we are loved. However, there will be people who do not know what it is to be loved or how to love others. God’s gift is freely given to us and it would be lovely to think that this Christmas we could share that gift of love with those who need to know what it is to be loved. Maybe you could invite someone on their own for meal, or leave them a gift letting them know someone loves and cares about them. Whatever you do, give the gift freely just as God did for us and let us light up the world with his love and hope.
May you all have a very Happy Christmas and may the hope and peace of the Christ child fill your hearts.