It happens to me every year and each time it does, I am always taken aback at the timing of it. This year it was as I drove through the streets of Kilbirnie – the sighting of the first house showing an illuminated Christmas tree in its window. This sighting took place on Thursday, 15 November!
Just short of six weeks before the annual celebration of our Lord’s Incarnation, there it was for all to see. Obviously whoever put it up simply couldn’t wait any longer. They were so keen that their Christmas decoration was there over two weeks in advance of the season before Christmas – Advent.
Advent is all about waiting … all about preparation … all about getting things in order for the coming King. It is a time that calls us to reflect on God as the one who comes among us – who has come in the past and who will come again at the end of time.
Most of us, like the people who put up their Christmas tree unseasonably early, are simply not good at waiting. We want things to hurry along to their conclusion as quickly as possible. We like things to be instant; and yet waiting is part of life. The scriptures remind us that “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.” In fact patience is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Waiting aligns us with the many generations that, in ancient times, longed to see the coming of God’s Messiah. It also assists us to stand in solidarity with all those who, in our own day and generation, long to see something of God’s decisive action – of his justice and peace in the world.
The coming of Christ marked an end to the old order of things. In the Christ Child we see something of God’s complete commitment to us. In Christ God is with us, as one of us.
This is a mystery beyond our comprehension; one that we need to take time to ponder and reflect on. God’s gift to us of the season of Advent, the season of expectant waiting, provides valuable space in which to prepare ourselves to receive all that he would seek to give us.
May we keep a watchful Advent that, in time, we may also celebrate with joy the one who came, the one who will come again and the one who promises to journey with us each step of our life’s pilgrimage.
Yours in the faith, Gordon