28 November 2018

Are you fed up with Christmas even before it’s here? Your eyes roll at the commercialism as you see the Christmas decorations go up earlier and earlier each year. You feel the pressure of Christmas shopping when the signs in the shops advise you that you’ve only got 6 weeks left until Christmas. And if it’s not the commercial pressure, it’s the relational angst. A friend was lamenting that Christmas used to be her favourite family time but now she just can’t wait for it to be over.

Instead of feeling joyful and calm we feel uneasy and overwhelmed. How can we make Christmas great again? How can we make Christmas more meaningful and enjoyable? By embracing the season of Advent!

This Sunday (2nd) in the Christian calendar marks the first Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming or arrival, and in this period leading up to Christmas we prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of Jesus in his incarnation and we also look ahead to his final advent.

Advent is a time to slow down and embrace waiting in the midst of a Christmas season marked with busyness and rushing around. It’s an opportunity to imagine the long-awaited coming of the Messiah as we read prophecies of Jesus’ coming that were promised thousands of years before his arrival in Bethlehem. As we get caught up in the madness of getting things done before the 25th, Advent reminds us that we along with Israel were helpless and that Jesus enters our world precisely because we couldn’t save ourselves.

But not only is it a time to consider Israel’s long wait for her Messiah, in Advent we remind ourselves that we along with the groaning creation are awaiting the full redemption and renewal of everything at the coming judgement of Jesus. We patiently wait, watch and pray for the arrival of our King, Jesus. We are affirmed with our discontent with how things are. There’s a reason why our family gatherings can be so painful and therefore it is right for us to be discontent with our sin-broken world and so we cry out for the second coming of Jesus.

So how can we embrace this season? Here are some ideas:

  1. Follow a daily Bible reading Advent plan: John Piper has two you can download for free: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy and Good News of Great Joy.
  2. Watch some Advent videos by Paul Tripp.
  3. With the kids, you can build a nativity scene with lego talking about it as you go along. Click here for ideas!
  4. By remembering God’s promises to Israel everyday as you add a new ornament to your Christmas tree (also known as the Jesse Tree). You can read more about it here. Or if you prefer adding sweets rather than ornaments then use Sandy’s version which you can read here.

I hope this helps to make Christmas more meaningful and more enjoyable!

Liam Shannon,
Assistant Minister