My own personalised advent

11 12 2009

Advent means ‘expectant waiting for a much longed for event’. Waiting. That’s essentially what we are doing, in the run up to Christmas, isn’t it? Waiting for the Christ-child to appear on the scene of salvation history.

I’m waiting too. Waiting for a child to be born. This too is a much longed for child.

I have had four responses to waiting for our child to be born:

  1. Forgetting that I’m pregnant
  2. Scurrying around buying and collecting things that the new baby will need
  3. Enjoying the moment and not wanting it to end – the wonder of the niggles inside me – enjoying the bump – not worrying about childcare or feeding, it’s all so simple and taken care of
  4. Fear about the child changing our lives forever. It’s this that gives me pause. Am I willing to allow this small human to take over my life? Is what I have to give to this child enough? What if I make mistakes?

When you think of Christmas coming, what do you feel? I confess my first thought is, ‘Actually, I haven’t thought much about it yet.’ It’s easy to get into the rhythm of life and allow the advent season to wash over me until Christmas is suddenly upon me. Andrew and I are notorious for not remembering to send out Christmas cards until 26 December. Usually we only send them to friends who are far away and whom we miss very much. The first line is always, ‘Sorry this is late . . .’

The other response that I often have to Christmas is dread. Yes, I am traumatized by the prospect of Christmas shopping. I am not one of those people who intuitively knows the perfect present for each person on my list. In fact, I find Christmas shopping highly stressful. Even if I manage to think of a present idea, I face the challenge of finding it and then (most of the time) working out how to post it the USA. I am now very grateful for Amazon wish lists and think that every considerate person should have one. But it is possible, isn’t it (let’s be honest) to spend the weeks before Christmas racing around shops and websites buying things.

People ask me whether I am ‘expecting’. (No, I tell them, I’m smuggling basketballs under my jumper!) Yes, indeed – I am ‘expecting’ a baby to be born. I have no idea whether the experience of parenthood will match my preconceptions.

What about you? What are you expecting? What do you expect Jesus will bring into your life this Christmas and New Year? Will you allow his presence to take over your life? Change your identity? Become the centre of all that you are and every activity that you undertake?

As Christians we not only think of the coming of Jesus as incarnate God in the form of a child. Our minds and hearts are drawn to the second coming of Christ – when he will turn the world upside-down (or right side-up!) and bring justice to human reality. Do you wait in expectation of this event?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the mundane practical necessities of life – I expect that I’ll soon be rather focused on the mundane! However, a wise friend of mine once said, ‘The things that count in life are the things that have eternal value.’ This truth can help us live our lives so that all of us are ‘expecting’ – living in anticipation of the second advent of Jesus Christ.

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