What does Advent mean to us?
The period leading up to Christmas is a very special one. A time of expectant waiting, of preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas, of sharing in the ancient longing for the Messiah as we too look past the present and are alert to the second coming of Christ.
Our contemporary world does not do waiting well. If we want something we like to have it now, and sometimes that is appropriate. Waiting for an operation when we could have it now, for example, is generally not a good option unless there are exceptional circumstances. However, generally waiting for something good, waiting with eager anticipation for a special time or gift, has a delicious excitement all of its own that we can miss out on if all we have is instant gratification.
So Advent should be an extraordinary time, a special time. A time of looking forward, of taking stock, of building excitement and we need to make space in our lives for Advent.
This takes effort however. We are bombarded with Christmas songs from October onward when our shops are full of Christmas decorations and tempting offers to buy early for our loved ones. Even Advent Calendars are often full of sweets each and every day to reward the effort of opening a paper door rather than opening up scripture, or our vision.
Speaking up for Advent can seem an uphill struggle in the midst of the excitement generated by John Lewis et al advertisements, soft-focus images of an idealised world of family contentment.
Yet creating space in our lives for moments of quiet, moments of preparation, moments of truly listening for God is hugely important, and Advent is one of the periods when we should try and do so, both individually and collectively.
Expectant waiting is surely worth the effort when we consider what we are waiting for.
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”