Advent, time to break out of our comfort zone
The four weeks leading up to Christmas are not only a time of holiday lights, pleasant scents, and the excited countdown to Christmas. The season of Advent challenges people: “Struggle for encounters with God. Experience God in dialogue.”
Breaking out of one’s comfort zone does not mean doing without good music, conversations, or days spent in the kitchen baking Christmas treats with our loved ones. It is good and important that we make room for wishes and traditions within the family.
Advent is more than Christmas lights and treats
The heart of Advent, however, is something entirely different. Two thousand years ago, shortly before the birth of the Lord and shortly before His mission began, it was important to concentrate on the essentials, to detach oneself from everyday things, and perhaps choose that which was inconvenient and uncomfortable.
How did the people at the time occupy themselves in this time of waiting? Some things can be reconstructed, but there is little that is praiseworthy when you look at the great mass. But already then there were examples, people who were waiting for the Lord. They did things a little differently than the others. And in the globalised world of the twenty-first century it is still possible.
Perfect examples to imitate
A man lived in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. He was a God-fearing man who had been moved by the Spirit to come to the temple (Luke 2: 27). He would surely have had other things to do; already then people were busy and had excuses. But his focus was on the encounter with the Saviour. He subordinated everything else to this wish—everyday things and possibly even vital things. Setting priorities is still possible today. Seeking a personal encounter with God every day, an experience … This is not preposterous.
Anna, the prophetess, worshipped God with fasting and prayers night and day (Luke 2: 37). She did not waste her time with useless things. She spoke with God and fasted. Even though Advent is often associated with stress nowadays, let us take the time to have a quiet and intense conversation with God. It us still possible. Let us take time and consciously cut back our consumption and abstain. This is possible before Christmas 2017.
John the Baptist stepped aside, so to speak, and said: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3: 30). Not his own ideas, his plans, or his wishes were paramount for John. Shortly before Jesus set out on His mission to teach the gospel, John drew people’s attention to Christ and prepared the way for Jesus, and was able to convince many of his contemporaries. This is possible still today.
Advent—a time to encounter God, to have an intense exchange with Him, and to position ourselves unequivocally.
Photo: Kris Wiktor / fotolia.de