Advent is here! A season to rejoice, reflect and celebrate the first coming of Christ Jesus. How are we preparing for it? Are we running around, busying ourselves with lists of jobs to finish before school breaks for Christmas? Are we writing endless lists of presents to order online? Are we worrying about the food we are going to have to prepare? Are we worrying about the Tier 2 imposed to most of the country by our government and the restrictions that mean we can’t enjoy this season as we have done in the past with our loved ones? Are we so saddened by the state of our world that we have not yet stopped to think about the meaning of the season?
Can I encourage you (this is for myself first) to stop and take some time to marvel at the unmeasurable love our God has poured out on us when He gave His Son, His only Son, to come to live with us and be our Immanuel? Jesus came as a servant and He live a perfect life in obedience to His Father in order to secure our salvation and make us right with God. Jesus has risen from the dead and is now seated at God’s right hand in heaven. Do we get moved by the fact that the King of the Universe would leave His throne in heaven and would come as a helpless baby, would grow up and ultimately suffer in our place on that cruel cross? Sometimes the familiarity with this most amazing story numbs our hearts and the entire season comes and goes and we have not reflected on the meaning of it all. My friends, let us bow the knee before our King and ask that our hearts be filled again with thankfulness and a burning desire to celebrate God’s love for us. As we read the famous passage from Luke 2, let us picture the details, what might have happened between the pen strokes. Let us ponder over and over, until our eyes can see afresh this wonder of God’s love.
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.11”
Once we have re-focused our hearts and minds, we must consider that Advent is also a time for every Christians to remember we are still waiting for the second coming of our King! This time is an opportunity to reflect on how we are preparing for the time when we Jesus will return in glory! Are we longing for that day? Have we spent time seeking to live in a way that is pleasing to our King? We should come to Him and confess the many times we are so preoccupied with the things of this world and we are so comfortable that we have forgotten to get ready for His arrival. The “house” is untidy, the rooms are filled with all sorts of distractions and we are lounging around without any care to how much or how little we are anticipating King Jesus’s coming. Jesus has secured for us eternal life with Him through His death on the cross for us, but He still desires for us to be transformed into His likeness each day! So, let us encourage one another to do that – why not send a card, a text, a message, or phone a friend to encourage her to get ready for His arrival! Remember the Bible tells us that no one knows the hour, but we know He is coming!
Another very important aspect of Advent for us to consider is the message of the Gospel that we were entrusted to share – the good news that it is for all mankind. Have we forgotten how important and how urgent this matter is? Have we been praying for opportunities to share Jesus with our neighbours, our family members, our work colleagues, our children during this season? This year has been particularly challenging for so many and people are looking for hope and we have the Hope they need. May the Lord give us boldness to share His amazing love with those who are without a shepherd.
May God bless and help us as we prepare our hearts for the season.