The shopping centres are full, the evenings are full, about the only thing that isn’t full is your bank account, as the digital cash speedily moves into the coffers of one store after another. It’s December, and amidst the crowded shops packed with giant nutcrackers, where The First Nöel plays on repeat, when there is a continuous stream of parties – one after another, and you feel the stress of buying a gift for that family member you haven’t seen since last Christmas, you can find yourself pretty hard pressed to have any time to be still, breathe, and reflect. It is amidst this season, when our time feels so scarce, that Advent teaches us to watch, to wait, and to hope for the coming of the one who makes all things new.
Advent is the missing piece to a lot of Christmas celebrations today. It’s a season that recalls Israel’s longing in the depths of captivity for God to come and be King. It reminds us that the first coming of Christ came as God’s answer to that expectation, and teaches us that the true celebration of Emmanuel – God with us – is done by looking to the day when Christ will come again. Whereas Jesus’ first coming was in humility – born in a manger, forced to flee as a refugee – the Church Fathers taught that his second coming would be in glory.
Caught as we are in this period of now and not yet between the two advents of Christ, the season of Advent questions our longings and dreams in light of this reality. Over the four weeks prior to Christmas, we hear again of prophecies foretelling the coming of God amongst us. By being immersed in this story, Advent gives us the space, the time, to re-examine the desires of our heart and realign them with God’s coming kingdom. These four weeks teach us to patiently waiting for the appearing of the Son, and to discontentedly long for a satisfaction that only he can provide. The readings from Scripture, the prayers from the church past and present are aimed to produce settled habits and practices that are drenched in the grace of God.
Below you will find links to Advent resources to help us mark the time in preparation for Christmas, and prepare our hearts to wait.
“In him the day of our deliverance has dawned. We rejoice that through him you make all things new and we look for his coming in power to judge the world.”
– An Australian Prayer Book