Advent is the church season leading up to Christmas. It is about waiting and expectation, waiting for Jesus. It is about waiting for him as a baby to be born at Christmas time, but also about waiting for his second coming as king at the end of time.
In the church we count down to Christmas from the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which is called Advent Sunday. Advent Sunday is the start of the church’s year. This year it falls on 28th November. Advent calendars usually start the count down on 1st December, which is never more than a few days from Advent Sunday.
So Advent is about waiting to meet Jesus. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus there are lots of practical preparations to be made. We get ready for Christmas by decorating the house, organising get togethers, buying Christmas presents and sending cards. Perhaps there is lots of food to prepare! Sometimes it can all seem a bit too much! Personally, I think it is best not to overdo it. After all we need to leave space for Jesus! If we are too busy to look out for Jesus in the people around us then we are not creating the space needed for him to be born among us. Rather, we need to focus on loving and serving Jesus in the people around us. If we can do that together then we are meeting in his name, and Jesus will truly come among us (cf Matt 18: 20).
But then what about meeting Jesus the king at the end of time? Jesus tells many parables about waiting well for this. For example:
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ (Mark 13: 32-37)
So waiting is about carrying on patiently with the tasks and situations which God sets before us moment by moment, day by day. It is about being faithful to all that God wants, and doing it in a consistent way, so that at any one moment in time we are ready. We will be ready to meet Jesus if we are ready to meet him now.
With prayers and best wishes for a happy Advent and Christmas, Fr Patrick
Collect Prayer for Advent Sunday
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen