Commercial Christmas is designed to get us to focus our hopes and dreams on this year, this time, this Christmas season. Maybe if we prepare well enough, spend enough money, get everything right - Christmas will be perfect. Everyone will enjoy themselves. There’ll be no arguments, no disappointments, no regrets. But it doesn’t last - we get to January and the credit card bill lands and it’s still dark and wet.
Advent gives us hope that lasts. That is the great blessing of the dual focus of advent - we don’t just look back to Jesus’ first coming 2000 years ago, we look forward to his second coming. Advent can help us to set our eyes not ultimately on Christmas Day, but on that day when Jesus will return. When ‘the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them...for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.’ (Isaiah 11:6, 9). When ‘God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Revelation 21:3-4).
As God’s people, it is not the hope for a Christmas that makes up for last year that is to fill our hearts and minds, but the cosmic and unshakable hope of a world redeemed, restored and blessed forever. And so we cry ‘Come, thou long expected Jesus’.
So how can we observe advent rather than just being sucked into commercial Christmas? This year as a church we’re providing everyone who wants one with a free advent devotional - daily bible readings and reflections to fix our eyes on Jesus during this season. Do grab one, and click here to request to join the WhatsApp group, and be encouraged by others and share reflections!
But the point isn’t just to spend 5 minutes each day ticking the ‘advent’ box and then throw ourselves back into the whirlwind of commercial Christmas, conformed to the pattern of this world. Instead we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) so that we live this advent season as a church that rests on the grace of God in Christ, leaves space for the reality of the darkness, and rejoices in the hope of a new creation.