Commercial X-mas (deliberate misspelling!) is hard to ignore, given it starts in September and is so pervasive it has us whistling songs about winter wonderlands in 40 degree Celsius heat!
Advent is prime time for school awards, holiday prep and end-of-year parties, and we could be excused for being so busy that we give it a miss altogether – did someone say ‘partied-out’?
Reflection and prayer throughout December can, however, prepare us for genuine wonder at the humble arrival of the baby who will be our saviour. It can align our spirits and minds with the unfolding story of strength in weakness, power in humility and leadership in servanthood.
Journey? What, now?
‘Journey’ is a word often used in the context of Christian learning and faith education. The season of Advent is typical full of travel references.
Take Mary’s hasty mid-pregnancy trip to visit her cousin Elizabeth in Luke 1.39-45. This journey sets up the whole drama of the Gospel story – Elizabeth and Mary meet, and we begin to understand the importance of the infant and the hugeness of Mary’s “yes”.
The most obviously famous Christmas journey is that of Mary and Joseph as they travel to Bethlehem to participate in Emperor Augustus’ census (Luke 2.1-7). The end of that dramatic journey is the small domestic journey depicted in every Nativity play ever staged – the movement from building to building trying to find shelter for Mary, who was labouring on a donkey. Jesus is born on a journey.
Symbolically, Matthew’s prologue (Matthew 1.1-18) details the genealogy of Jesus, the trip back into the history of the Israelites that links this new-comer to the ancient traditions – the authors of Matthew present Jesus as the culmination of the Jewish journey. Matthew (2.13-23) shows a young Jesus retracing the Exodus journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan. Jesus’ persecution by Herod mirrors the persecution of Moses who led the epic journey of the Israelites to the promised land (Exodus 14).
Advent – the arrival
Then there’s the personal journeying we do in periods of waiting. ‘Advent’ means the ‘arrival’ of something, the ‘coming into being’ of an expected thing or event. For Christians, Advent is when we anticipate the arrival of Jesus, and while we anticipate and look forward, we wait and prepare ourselves for the new world we know is ahead of us with the advent of Jesus.
Think of the special tension of waiting for a baby to be born – that mix of joy, excitement and fear…fear of the health of the baby, of having to be the adult in the room. We spend our time waiting, but not necessarily still. There are often great preparations to be made, upskilling, reading, watching YouTube clips on nappy changing, trips to navigate Ikea’s winding distractions, putting together furniture from flat packs, working up to the very last day possible…and no way is anyone wishing that the end will be earlier than expected! So it is with Advent in the Christian church – it is a season of preparation and journey.
A commitment to join others in this regular faith journey aims to focus some of that energy and excitement on to that particular point – the person of Jesus.
Journey + Advent = Wonder
Advent is intriguing – we look forward to the arrival of a defenceless infant when so many anticipated the advent of a mighty and strong vanquisher. We learn about the ministry of a radical who offended the ruling elite and was put to death for sedition and treason, when so many expected a great warrior. We anticipate the stirrings of hope in the resurrection when Jesus’ closest friends were in despair, and so the journey goes.
Walk this way – an Advent journey towards Jesus
FormedFaith is excited to launch 2020’s Advent study material ’Walk this way – an Advent journey towards Jesus’.
This Advent Study series uses individual conversation videos and the great discussion questions from across the St Francis College Short Course collection. ‘Walk this way’ is adaptable, relevant, inspirational and thought-provoking. It is super easy to use – just choose the theme that works for you (from four options) and check out the suggested videos for the week. There are plenty of wonderful ideas for travelling solo, managing groups, and making an intergenerational journey to remember.
For more information on ’Walk this way – an Advent journey towards Jesus’, please contact Fiona Hammond via firstname.lastname@example.org or (07) 3514 7455.Jump to next article