The season of Advent (from the Latin, adventus, literally, “coming”), is one of preparation. However, in recent years we have become obsessed with the concept of “waiting” during Advent. While “waiting” does form a part of the Advent narrative, we should not lose sight of the richness of the Advent season as a season of preparing for the Lord’s coming. During Advent we concentrate on the Lord’s coming in two different ways: his coming as a child in Bethlehem many years ago (ritually re-enacted in our Christmas liturgies); and his end-times coming when God’s kingdom shall finally “come on earth, as it is in heaven.” Thus, our Advent Scripture readings look forward both to Jesus’ birth and to his return – the inauguration of the new order and its completion. It is not a time to sit quietly and wait, but it is a time to prepare.
Perhaps I am not so concerned as others about the frenzy of activity and preparation that comes at this time of year. The old collect that fell on the Sunday before Advent (now used in early September), which begins “Stir up the wills, O Lord, of your faithful people…” was a call to action. These words were the cue for many to begin “stirring up” the Christmas pudding. This is more than just a “cute” take on a meaningful collect. At a deeper level, all the excitement and preparation for the family gatherings and banquets that take place during this time of year are our way of saying that we are participating in the preparation of banquet to end all banquets – the one we shall enjoy when our Lord finally returns. Amidst all of this activity and preparation is joy, and with that joy, comes excitement and anticipation. So sing your carols, I say. Stir up your puddings. Gather with family and friends and celebrate. Make haste. Prepare. Just do not forget the Good News for which we are preparing. Do not forget our Lord. Forget not to celebrate our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the alpha and omega, the first and the last, the one who was, and is, and is to come.
A blessed Advent to all.