Friday, 2 December 2011

The season of Advent

I’m sure you will have seen on TV the new  John Lewis advert : The Long Wait The aim of the advert, besides pointing you to do your shopping at John Lewis is to press home the real meaning of Christmas - that it is better to give than to receive. If your heart hasn't been melted by The Long Wait then it is made of flint, and Scrooge-like you deserve to be visited by every ghost going. Remember, out of the mouths of babes and all that. The child in question is seven-year-old Lewis McGowan, who in the ad spends 10 days counting off the hours, minutes and seconds until Christmas. Not so he can indulge in a frenzied present-opening fest, but so that he can experience the joy of giving his parents a special gift of his own. See, it's better to give than to receive - that's the twist, and it took a child to point that out. This is John Lewis focusing on core family values, in these economic belt-tightening times. And it has captured the public mood. The ad first launched on Twitter and YouTube, allowing time to generate chatter before it landed in the nation's front rooms during ITV's The X Factor a few weeks ago.

Last Sunday was the 1st Sunday in Advent, this signifies the beginning of the four weeks before Christmas, we call it the Advent season. It’s the time of year when we prepare for Christmas. The common dictionary definition of advent refers to the coming or arrival of something extremely important. It’s interesting that the definition implies both the expectation and the fulfilment of that expectation. That seems especially fitting as it applies to the Christmas season. We know the outcome of the Christmas story, unlike the people who first heard the words from Isaiah, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” And yet, we still anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Each year we can find new meaning in the familiar scriptures and songs, the familiar order of events.

We live with both the expectation and fulfilment. Because Jesus was born in a manger and died on the cross, we have the promise of eternal life. Because of Christmas, we can live in the promise “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

As you prepare for Christmas this year, that in the midst of all the hustle, stress and busyness that comes with getting ready for Christmas Day, don’t forget to prepare for the real reason for the season; the birth of the Son of God – Jesus Christ. May you discover new hope and meaning in this Advent season, as you live in the expectation and fulfilment of God’s love.