We are in the Advent season, which this year began on December 1st and ends on December 24th. But unlike our forefathers, who I will get to, for most it is about seasonal festivities and the Christmas story. Besides our family meditations that included reading through Lukes gospel, which conveniently contains 24 chapters, one for each day of the season, and read a book of daily Advent meditations: “Repeat the Sounding Joy”, I have soberly reflected.
In the past month, my sober reflections have included pondering the message of the prophets, listening to sermons of recently departed preachers: David Wilkerson and Derek Prince and reading “The Trumpets Sounds of Britain” by David Gardener. One common theme is a reminder of how the Hebrew prophets spoke their unpopular message to and concerning God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, warnings if they did not repent from their wicked ways God would send judgement on them. This he invariably did.
Going back to the meaning of Advent, it was something I was until recently barely aware of, coming from a church tradition that just about recognized Christmas and Easter but not the seasons that led up to these: Advent and Lent. My understanding is that in days of yore the earnest seekers after God looked forward to these high water marks of the church calendar with sober reflection, prayer and fasting. As for Advent, it was less about the coming of the Messiah as that helpless babe in a manger but more on his coming again as the glorious, triumphant King of kings, who among other things judges.
It is easy to look around me with consternation for many reasons – the lack of power and authentic living among professing Christians, the attacks seen the world over on genuine Christians sometimes leading to martyrdom yet hardly recognized, wickedness in our nation that is sometimes termed as progress, spiritual apostacy – the failure on the part of ministers to preach the Gospel that should include messages on sin, righteousness and judgment (three things the Holy Spirit convicts us of), the fall from grace and exposure of hypocrisy from among Christians. But first I must look within, which among other things means praying the prayer of the Psalmist.
If I am honest, Christmas is not something I have placed great store on over the years, especially the more sentimental aspects, partly because of past negative experiences, but the older I get, the more I value it, specifically the coming into the world of the Christ child and the enormous ramifications it holds, including its hope for peace and reconciliation. But I have to end by harping back to our spiritual forefathers and reflecting on the Wilkerson, Prince and Gardner messages of judgement that will increase in severity if we don’t repent, and while it may well apply to the world at large, we (the Church) ought to ponder that it has to begin with us:
But along with these thoughts of sobriety that is part of my Advent reflections, I truly wish readers a Merry (cheerful, bright, blessed) Christmas. Might I suggest listening to what is maybe my favourite Christmas music “O come, O come Emmanuel” that steers our thoughts back to the Christ who has come into the world to save sinners such as us and helps us to look forward to when Christ will come again in glory. When it comes to reflecting this Advent, we need focus on honouring the one who is the reason for the season.