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Monday, 1 December 2014

Advent 1: What are you waiting for?

As I've prayed over the past few weeks, the question that keeps nagging me is "What are you waiting for?" Advent is a season of waiting, of expectation, of longing and hoping. In many ways it is a painful season: a realisation of prayers unanswered, of plans gone wrong, of hopes unfulfilled, of waiting for what hasn't happened yet. What are we waiting for? Healing? Employment? Reconciliation? Peace? Rest? Hope? Change? Something new? A fresh start in the New Year?

Baby by Anonymous - cartoon babyFor those who follow Jesus, Advent is the season of remembering that Jesus is the one we waited for; he is the one that all of history waited for. The hope of humanity is met in him. And so each day during Advent I'm going to post a short thought on what it is exactly that we waited for. What were we waiting to arrive that first Christmas morning thousands of years ago? 

We waited for a baby

"The Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be pregnant." (Isaiah 7:14)

This is perhaps the most insane and offensive part of the Christmas message - that all of history was waiting for the arrival of a tiny, fragile, helpless baby. A child who, like any other child, would be absolutely dependant on his mum, who would wake screaming and crying in the middle of the night, who would need his nappies changed, who would need feeding and bathing and loving. In the midst of tinselly nativities it is easy to forget that Jesus was like any other newborn: red-faced, wrinkly and crying out for love. 

Our God is a strange God. The birth of a baby seems the most ridiculous way to start a plan to save the world but this is what we're about to celebrate. God's Son was born in an obscure, forgotten part of the world to a teenage Mum. He was born into poverty and scandal. Let's not gloss over the mess of that first Christmas this Advent. Our God is a God who embraces mess - his plan to save humans started by becoming one. 

Reflection: Think about the smallest baby you've ever held. Think about how totally vulnerable and helpless he or she was. Ask God why he chose to become a tiny baby: What did he want to show us by choosing to come into the world not as some great hero or warrior but as a child? Thank God that he doesn't do things in the way we expect. He is the God of the little people!

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