Our reading speaks of a hope, a promise, a future and a new heart. A new heart from mankind to God; given not under obligation or duress but because they want to. Why? Because God is a generous God bringing forgiveness, love, peace, freedom and hope.
Advent is primarily a season of hope where we look to the future with expectation and anticipation. Remembering and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ into our world and looking forward to his return. In a world where we are so used to having things exactly when we want them, it’s also good to remember and experience that there can be joy in the waiting. But what are we waiting for I wonder?
Perhaps it’s counting off how many sleeps are left until the 25th, or waiting for the greeting card from family or friend to hear their news, or waiting for that longed-for gift, or for family to arrive – for better or for worse(!) – or maybe it’s waiting for the feasting that is to come. In amongst all the business and frantic activity there is perhaps an expression of the basic human desire to know love, be loved and share love. God’s nature is to love, and his desire is that mankind might know and experience that love.
Things and people will always disappoint – even with the best will in the world we will at some point let someone down – but God never does and never will and His promise has been revealed in the presence of Jesus Christ, made man.
In all the rush, we stand the risk of missing out on the blessing of Advent and the giving of God’s perfect gift. I wonder what you consider would be the best gift you could receive? What might it look like? How long might it last? The best gift we can ever give ourselves is spending time with God this advent, and the best gift we could give God? … have you ever even thought about that before? … would be creating the opportunity for him to spend time with us. Spend time in his presence. Be still, listen, read some scripture, read some study notes, watch a podcast, (I can suggest some good ones), listen to some worship music … whatever works for you, but spend some designated time with the God who made you, loves you and longs for you to know him better.
I read the other day that if we arrive at the 25th having had enough of Christmas, then we will not have experienced advent as we should have.
May you know his peace and his presence in these days that lead to the celebration of his birth.
With the Lord’s blessing
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale