written by Rev Gary Heard

Advent is the season of expectation: of looking forward in hope and anticipating what is to come. In the immediate frame of our vision is Christmas, but if that were all that Advent invited us to see, we would be greatly impoverished, particularly when we consider the way in which Christmas is celebrated (perhaps indulged might be a better word) in our culture.

Advent is a celebration of what is to come in the purposes of God, and therefore embraces His full purposes. To be attuned to the spirit of the Advent season is to be heightened in our sensitivities as one listens eagerly in the night when a sound penetrates the darkness. We wait, watch, listen, still ourselves, perhaps even wander about searching in order to understand what it is that has invaded the nightís silence.

In the Advent season we remember, and rekindle our hope. We remind ourselves of the way in which God meticulously prepared and richly seeded the people of Israel for the coming of their Messiah. Hints and guideposts were regularly planted in the story of Israel, filling them with anticipation and keeping them keen with anticipation, or encouraging them through dark times by holding out the light of hope. The coming of the Messiah, born in Bethlehem, was the culmination of a long promise unfolded through time. There were those whose lives were focussed towards this moment and were blessed to see it. Others, who once held similar focus, had lost that keen sense of anticipation to the point where some missed it altogether, while others became active in their opposition.

In this Advent season we are again invited to hone our sense of anticipation, and examine our lives afresh. Does our lifestyle reflect the hope we proclaim? Have we diverted our energies away from this ultimate purpose of God? How keenly do we seek Godís presence in our lives, Godís voice to guide, Godís Spirit to empower?

Or have we come to rely on habit and ritual, stripped of life?

If we were to take our present course and project into the future, where would it lead us? Where would it leave us?

As we wait, watch, and listen during this Advent season, we seek to realign ourselves afresh with the very reason God sent His Son. Are we as His people living this Advent hope still?

December 11, 2005
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