Every day in Advent 2016 we will be sharing short reflections from authors, Christian charities and Eden team members.
I love Advent. As I go to collect my paper and bread early in the morning I see the trees, having lost their leaves, outlined against the sky. They stand stark and spare, stripped down to essentials, waiting for the sap to rise again for spring. So Advent is a time to be spare and bare, ready and waiting. However, as you know, it is increasingly difficult to keep a proper Advent. Christmas gets ever more commercialised and trivialised, as well as earlier and earlier. But from a Christian point of view Christmas begins on Christmas Day, not before, and continues in the days after. We need to recover Advent as a period of preparation not celebration; a time to draw in and concentrate on essentials.
The other reason I love Advent is because of the Hymns and great readings from the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament. The words and music are spine tingling as they look to the coming of Christ in Glory. “Wake, O wake! with tidings thrilling” as the great Bach hymn begins. “Lo! He comes with clouds descending” in the words of Charles Wesley. So Advent is not just about looking to the coming of Christ in humility at Christmas. It is about looking to his coming again when that humility is revealed in all its glory.
So Advent is a time of waiting-not in a passive sense, for discipleship is action. But action is useless unless it is the action of God in and through us. So the first and most important form of waiting is waiting on God now. It is so easy to create a god in our own image, one we most want or most fear We need therefore to clear our mind of clutter, even pious clutter and wait upon him in a certain unknowing, that he may strip away all false images and make himself known him more truly as he is. So Advent is not just a waiting for something, it is waiting as an end in itself, a waiting upon the good Lord. “Truly my soul waits upon you O God.”
Richard Harries is the former Bishop of Oxford (1987- 2006) and is an honorary professor of theology at King's College, London. His most recent work: The Beauty and The Horror was released in October 2016.
December 10th, 2016 - Posted & Written by The Editor