For those who follow the Christian seasons of the year Advent is upon us. December for many heralds the preparations for Christmas, buying presents, food, drink, extra visits to relatives and all those Christmas cards.
Whatever we think of this time of the year, it is for many a time of expectation, of impatient waiting for presents, for that party, family gathering or good wishes from someone we haven't seen in years. Considering all of these things are they wrong? Is it wrong to look forward to an event or a situation that stirs us or excites us? Israel had been waiting for a Messiah for so long that they had all but given up and yet God's plan unfolded during that census 2000 years ago ... What, I wonder, was the expectation of those travelers, "kings", who journeyed for many miles in the hope of witnessing this event? What is our expectation as we journey through advent, preparing, celebrating, spending money, waiting for the 25th?
In some ways, as a Christian, I can't make any judgment on what those who don't believe in Christ are thinking and doing, but I can encourage myself and others who do believe to think carefully about what we signal by what we do.
For example, I heard someone talking about Christmas cards the other day and pointing out that there is no point in sending a card to someone you haven't spoken to for years. I guess their point is it seems a futile gesture with no point. But anyone who has visited the sick, housebound or lonely will understand the value to these people of knowing that someone cared enough to write a card and send it to them. Yes, for some its the only contact from the sender in the year, but at the very least they are still remembered and once a year is better than never!
When I was younger there was a little thing that romantics like me wrote on a letter or card to someone we were dating or going out with - SWALK - Sealed With A Loving Kiss. When I write my cards, I think of the people and where they are, no I don't contact them all every year, but when they get that card, I hope it touches their heart that I still care about them even if time prevents closer contact. Note to myself - ring a few that I haven't spoken to for years ...
Yet while we were lost in our sinful ways, thinking that no one cared, God in His grace sent Christ as his Christmas message to all humanity. A message that says , I Love you, I care about you and I am prepared to do something to put our relationship right.
He calls us to follow Him, to emulate Him as best we can, to be a light. So in this advent season choose the things to do that will help others have an excited expectation about this time of year, make someones day through that call, visit, card, gift or help make someones life anew through that invitation to a Christmas event at our churches.
Make advent a time of excited expectation for all that Christ means and wants to mean to each and every person.