December 2018

The 3 A’s of Advent

Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as we look to celebrate the coming of Jesus at Christmas, and also look ahead to the time when Jesus will come again to judge and renew all things at the end of time. The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin word ‘Adventus’ which among its definitions means: ‘Approach’, ‘Arrival’ and ‘Appearance’. As we begin to prepare our hearts for Christmas let us look at these three words in turn.

A… APPROACH

In the middle of the service last Sunday, as the music quietened, someone tenderly shared that she felt God saying that there are some of us who need to know that we can call God, ‘Daddy’. Daddy is such a child-like, intimate way of referring to God. It provokes a picture for me of wide, open arms of a father wanting to embrace a child. It is a child knowing that they belong, are safe, secure and always loved. It reminds me of the daddy in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) who waits for his lost son to return and when he sees him on the horizon cannot help himself but has to run towards his son and unashamedly fling his arms around him to welcome him home.

Can we really call God ‘Daddy’? What might stop us? Well maybe our impression of God is that He is far too important and holy for us to be able to refer to Him as ‘Daddy’. We feel much better calling Him, Lord, Almighty God, Heavenly Father. Surely for such a holy God we need to show reverence and address Him with formal titles. Yet here is the paradox. Yes, our God is almighty, awesome and holy but He is also the God who delights in intimacy. As we approach God let us do so knowing that Jesus himself showed us that we can call Him ‘Daddy’.

A… ARRIVAL

The arrival of Jesus is celebrated all over the world, with Christmas presents, special meals, baubles and Christmas trees. However, away from the glitz and wrapping paper, the simple truth is that the birth of Jesus signifies the arrival of God with us on earth. His arrival showed us just how far God is willing to go to rescue us and how much He loves us. Yet this is not easily understood. We hear that God loves us, but do we know it in our hearts? When the Prodigal Son returned, he had rehearsed his lines to say to his daddy. ‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son but would you have me as your servant?’ What the son hadn’t counted on was the mercy, love and sheer delight that the Father has when we come back to Him. Jesus’ birth and subsequent death makes it possible for us to know that we cannot earn God’s love no matter how much we’d like to try.

“The most important discovery you will EVER make is the love the Daddy has for you.”

A… APPEARANCE

Getting ready for Christmas and celebrating Jesus’ first appearance on earth is a great reminder that we need to prepare, not just for Christmas but that Jesus will, one day, come again. Before the 25th of December, there are a whole list of things to do, buy and wrap, but I wonder what our list of things to do would be if we knew Jesus was coming again on that day? Maybe these words from Micah might help us.

“O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

So, as we prepare for Christmas let us reflect on those three words: Approach, Arrival and Appearance and may our hearts be ready for His coming.

Lord, this Advent, may this eternal truth be always on our hearts
That the God who breathed this world into being
Placed stars into the heavens
And designed a butterfly’s wing
Is the God who entrusted His life
to the care of ordinary people
Became vulnerable that we might know
how strong is the power of Love
A mystery so deep it is impossible to grasp
A mystery so beautiful it is impossible to ignore

Every blessing in Christ,

Daniel Currie (Vicar)

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