In the run up to Christmas, Fran reminds us what it is really all about
We have had ‘black Friday’, the shops are full of glitz and glamour, trying to entice us to buy more. We are being reminded of the last posting dates for Christmas, and the lights in our towns twinkle with festive themes. At home we are gradually putting up our decorations, making shopping lists and buying presents.
Advent is a long run up to Christmas. Although we might be forgiven for thinking that Christmas has already arrived, as we start singing carols in the middle of the month.
Advent means ‘coming’, and in the early church it was always a time of preparation. Not for Christmas, but for Christ’s coming in glory. Like Lent, it was originally 40 days and was a time of fasting, of soul searching and prayer. It was a time when we prepared to receive Christ in our midst.
Isaiah called the people to prepare the way for the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3) and this cry was echoed by John the Baptist. It is the cry that we must heed, to prepare the way for Christ to come, as Christ always comes.
There is a lovely old poem that talks about the preparations we would make if the king were to visit, making sure that everything is clean, bright and perfect. But the poem contrasts the preparation that we make for the Lord of Lords.
‘But at the coming of the King of Heaven
All ‘s set at six and seven;
We wallow in our sin,
Christ cannot find a chamber in the inn.
We entertain Him always like a stranger,
And, as at first, still lodge Him in the manger.’
As we prepare for Christmas, let us not lose focus on the real meaning of Advent.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.