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16 December 2021
Reflections on the season of Advent
Words Amanda Hart
Most of us are familiar with Advent calendars – the calendars of all shapes, sizes, and materials that involve opening a little drawer, box, cardboard window, or envelope, with a surprise treat inside.
In the Christian Church calendar, Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks preceding Christmas. Advent means ‘coming’ in Latin and is a time of preparation and expectation – for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas, and the Second Coming of Christ.
In the final of her four-part series, Amanda Hart shares her thoughts on the Advent season and how we can use this time to prepare for, and focus on, this special season of the year and the real meaning behind it.
As a kid I remember the words, “Are we there yet?” coming out of my mouth on numerous occasions. More often than not it was met with the response, “Not yet, just wait!” Waiting can be tough, especially if you’re an impatient soul like me. Over the past 18 months or so, we’ve all done a lot of waiting – to see family and friends, for lockdowns to end, to return to work, for restrictions to lift, for test results – the list could go on and on.
During this time, I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I can’t wait!” Let me just say, I totally get it; I get the feeling of frustration when it comes to waiting, but I’ve discovered that what’s important is what we do in that waiting, and whether we use the time wisely to prepare for the coming event, or whether we sit around and complain about how long things are taking.
Here’s the thing though – I’ve also discovered that the event or food, or whatever it is we’ve been getting ready for, takes a lot less time than preparing for it. After all the preparation and planning I put into my disastrous first attempt at making a pavlova, I decided to give it another go the next day. Everything I had done the first time I did again, so the amount of time spent getting ready and making it was doubled. Then, of course, you need to add the extra cooking time (in a different oven) on the second day when my pavlova was actually successful.
When the time came to eat dessert on Christmas Day, that pavlova was demolished within a couple of minutes! However, I would argue that the time spent in preparing, planning, and making it was time well spent – learning the importance of mixture consistency, oven temperatures, timing and more, while I hoped for a beautiful dessert as the outcome.
In the Bible’s book of Isaiah, we hear about the Israelites being exiled and the lack of hope they were feeling. But the prophet Isaiah spoke into their hopelessness and told them how to wait in preparedness for the coming Messiah: “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah chapter 40, verse 31).
But what does it mean to wait on God? It means recognising that God has all things under control; it means depending on God and aligning ourselves with his will and timing; it means having hope, confidence, and an expectation that he will act; it means trusting in him.
How have you used this time of waiting during the Advent season? Have you spent the time wishing away the days until Christmas Day, or have you taken the opportunity to stop, reflect, and learn how God is working in your life and the lives of those around you?
Trust in God. He’s got it all under control.
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint”
(Isaiah chapter 40, verse 31).
Captain Amanda Hart is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in Victoria.