The people who are now living in darkness will see a great light. – Isaiah 9:2 (NIRV)
When I was a child growing up in church, one of my favourite Christmas traditions was the lighting of the advent candles each Sunday. Each Sunday a different family was chosen to light the candle and share what it’s symbolism meant to them. As a little girl I didn’t know the rich significance of the advent tradition, the word advent to me merely meant the wreath with its fake greenery and 5 taper candles of purple, pink and white. And yet there was something special being communicated to me through this simple ritual. Now, years later, I am hungry for this sense of awe that can be nurtured during the Christmas season. I am longing for an advent tradition of my own.
There is so much to look forward to in December. Christmas movies, parties, trees to decorate, cookies to bake. All of these things are important to me and my family, they bring us together, connect us, fill us with joy. But as the end of the year approaches, I want more than just a month of good times. I want a spirit that is hungry for God. I think advent is a perfect time to build this longing. This season is one for celebration, yes. God himself is dwelling among us! But it is also a time for self-reflection. When Light comes, bursting forth in all of its radiance, it reveals the things that were once hidden in the dark.
The prophet Malachi said this about the coming of Christ into our world:
Then suddenly the Lord you are looking for will come to his temple. He is the one you long for. He will be like a fire that makes things pure. He will be like soap that makes things clean. – Malachi 3:1-2 (NIRV)
This advent I want to be attentive to where Christ wants to enter my life right now. I believe he is already knocking at the door of our hearts. Am I listening? Can I hear his voice calling? Christ is the one who redeems, builds, heals, saves, liberates, creates, begins. I can prepare my heart for him by cultivating a willingness to change.
Over the weeks before Christmas, as I do all the things that I need to do — pray, cook dinner, enjoy friends, even take out the garbage — I want to pay attention to where God might want to bring his light. His nudges may not be anything earth-shattering or magnificent, Christ comes in the quietest of ways, like an infant born in a stable on the outskirts of town. If I am frantically rushing from one thing to the next I might miss his gentle voice of truth. What might he want me to surrender to him? Are there places in my life where I have been ignoring his loving whispers? How can I make room for more and more of Christ in my life?
And in those moments of listening my prayer is this: Come, Lord Jesus, Come.
Some interesting reading for December: