Almost without warning Advent has arrived, but most people will not have noticed. Shops and supermarkets overflow with things to buy for Christmas, yet in the midst of all the commercial mayhem, it is as though we have arrived at the destination before we have even started the journey.
In the Christian calendar Advent (which in Latin simply means ‘coming‘) over the centuries has been the Church’s way of announcing something very significant. However, in our fast-paced lives, it is if nothing has occurred at all. Who amongst us has noticed anything different?
Advent is a time of preparation and anticipation. It heralds in the beginning of the new church year, where there is a different focus and changing emphasis, as those of faith seek to understand anew this Jesus of Nazareth.
Advent is also a time of putting the old year behind us, with all its highs and lows; achievements and disappointments; then summoning sufficient strength to start all over again. We cannot change anything now behind us, but we certainly can do something about that which is yet to be. That is the promise of Advent.
So what is coming? It may not necessarily be all the things we might be dreaming of, like a child looking wistfully at the yet-to-be-filled Christmas stocking. It might instead be something that catches us completely by surprise and giving us a whole new way of facing life.
The early Christmas stories, which is what Advent is about, all spoke of a deep-seated yearning that life as they knew it might be different. Some hoped for a freedom from slavery and oppression, while others looked for a new kind of society altogether. No one anticipated that the one we know as Jesus of Nazareth would arrive on the scene as a helpless infant, but that is how it was – and still is!
We too arrived on the scene rather helpless. Over the years we have been nurtured, growing in both stature and understanding. Someone believed in us, encouraged us, loved us, to the point that we are who we are today. We cannot describe the ‘why’, but we certainly experience the reality of all that has been done for us.
In essence, that is what the reality of Advent is all about. We have come on our own journey during the school year, which is now coming to an end. Many of us are about to branch out on our own, as new opportunities and insights are placed before us. The story of Jesus is the offering to all humanity a promise of a new beginning, a new start. I believe that passionately and I pray that as we prepare for Christmas, it may be your reality also.
Reverend Nalin Perera
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