It’s officially December, which means that it’s that time of year where half of us are starting to get into the Christmas spirit and the other half, not so much! We’ve seen off #BlackFriday and the business of putting up trees, wrapping pressies and eating too much chocolate can begin.
But as we start to countdown towards Christmas day, spending many-a spare moment shopping and preparing for every single one of your known relatives to arrive, it’s easy to forget the purpose of the whole thing.
I know the whole “true meaning of Christmas” phrase is used every year…let’s face it, it’s a bit cliché and so often we will breeze past it without too much consideration. I reckon most of us actually do already know what it’s about, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the preparation, celebration and turkey (I loathe turkey…!).
However, as the countdown ticks on (it’s a mere 20 days away!) it’s good to remind ourselves again of the purpose, the dream of Christmas. We’re five days into this advent season: what is it that we’re really doing…?
Well, advent is a clever little thing, in that it is three things in one. It’s a reminder of what was, a celebration of what is and a looking forward to what is to come.
And, of course, like all of the practices that we, as Christians, have, advent is all about Jesus.
A reminder of what was
The Jewish people had been waiting for a very long time for their prophesied Messiah to come. All the way through the Old Testament, there are hints about this coming King – the 39 books each have promises of this saviour.
In fact, there are over 300 prophesies in the Old Testament about Jesus which are fulfilled in the New Testament through his birth, life, death and resurrection. These prophetic pointers were spread out over hundreds of years…they stretched all the way from God’s first interactions with Abraham, Moses and all their other pals, through the 400-year break between Old and New testaments to a stable in Bethlehem, a cross in Jerusalem and an empty tomb in a Garden.
If any of you were at some of the Soul Survivor summer festivals this year, you’ll probably remember Tim Ross coming to talk in the main meetings for some of the weeks, where he gave a few very animated talks. He described the Old Testament like a trailer for the New Testament. The first bit of the Bible is the waiting for Jesus to arrive, while the second part is all about Jesus coming and what happened after he left earth. Like a movie trailer which gives you the gist of the story that will happen, the Old Testament points towards the New.
In this “trailer”, there are 365 of these pointers (132 of them in Isaiah!!) which give us hints about this coming King.
In all of them, you can sense and hear the expectation, longing. There is an active waiting in the OT, expectantly looking forward to the Messiah.
And advent is part of this tradition.
We are to be people who actively wait for the coming Messiah.
In 20 days’ time, we will once again celebrate the birth of the greatest person to ever walk this earth. But Jesus was more than a mere man, he was fully God too. Able to bear the weight of our wrongdoing, defeat the power of death and set us free forever.
Advent is a time of actively waiting for this, our King.
So, as we go through Advent, this time of active waiting, what are you doing to prepare yourself? How can you break out of the consumerism that surrounds all-things-Christmas and set time aside to wait for Jesus?
As you hear the nativity story for the nth time, can you make the space in your time to intentionally look forward to Jesus coming, meeting you and changing everything?