There is also the reality of needing to look ahead and plan for the coming year, and balance this out with the practical preparations for the festive season.
For Christians all over the world, the season of Advent points us in the direction of the celebration of the birth of Christ at Christmas. This a time to focus on the promises God has made, and to celebrate with joyful and thankful hearts that God kept those promises, sending Jesus into our world to enable us to come close and to live in peace as people with hope. God’s presence in history reached its fullness in the Incarnation. The Scriptures proclaimed in our liturgies echo the words of the prophets who call us again to wake up, to be alert, to ready our hearts and minds for the second coming of Christ in the fullness of time, and especially to work together as people of faith to create a different kind of society where justice, peace and love are the hallmarks.
We are living in the time between the two comings of Christ and this is the time of the Christian community. At Christmas we rightly celebrate the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. A powerful image from the Old Testament that describes this is the image of a tent being pitched in the desert, representing a place of rest, refreshment, meaning, and courage for the rest of the journey.
For the Christian community, this time between the two comings of the Lord is a time for conversion to God’s Word and God’s dream for the world. We are invited to walk with the Lord, to draw strength from the Word and to understand that as children of God, disciples of Jesus, we walk in the light and darkness has no power to overwhelm us.
As people of faith we can look forward with hope to the coming of the Lord by making a firm commitment to act with and on behalf of the most needy and vulnerable in our society. We are deeply aware of the ills of our society and Church and of the need to act with integrity and sensitivity. Having recognised this, we are called to re-align ourselves to the Word made flesh and to do all that we can to ensure the well-being of all members in our society and Church. Practical ways we can show our commitment is via groups such as Caritas and St Vincent De Paul Society.
Christmas is a season of good will, peace and happiness, though sadly, many people experience this as a time of intense loneliness, hurt and suffering. For all Christians, the messages of hope, joy, love and peace are beautifully expressed in the Scriptures. We can afford to sing and dance for joy because God remembers us.
At Christmas we know it is truly the Lord who has come to be with us, who delights in us and rejoices in us. All of us are called to make this a reality that reaches beyond ourselves, to be infectious with our delight in a God who chooses to come close to us and to pitch a tent of dwelling in our midst. May the coming of the Lord renew our faith and urge us to love and support one another at this special Christmas time.
Kathy Horan is liturgy educator with the Office for Worship.
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