An Advent Parable
In this article written by Pete Greig, Pete Greig talks about the subject of Advent.
Pete talks about the excitement of expectation. He describes with much affection how one particular year his sons were so desperate for it to snow that they prayed every night before bed and would wake up expecting snow in the morning.
Pete Greig says that the season of Advent should be about eager anticipation and active preparation for something even more wonderful than the snow. He suggests that in order for us to do Advent properly, we must approach it as children. He continues by saying that we must pray and watch and wait.
Pete Greig writes...
Before the snows, my kids went a little mad, quivering with levels of primal anticipation beyond anything their mini bodies could contain. They prayed for snow at bedtime, they expected snow in the morning. They mistook frost, rain and even falling leaves for snow. They took to watching the weather forecast with a fervour generally reserved only for The Simpsons. One night I even found them both out of bed, too excited to sleep, noses pressed to the pane, scanning the darkness for that first holy flake from heaven. Meanwhile, however, dour British weather forecasters cautioned grimly about ‘the threat’ of snow, chaos on the roads and ‘travel disruption’.
The current season of Advent is all about eager anticipation and active preparation for something even more wonderful (and even more disruptive) than snow. Soon, but not yet, light and life, peace and joy will be born in our dark, dirty, desperate world. And I reckon the way to do Advent properly, therefore, is to approach it childishly. Not passively – like waiting at a bus stop for another Christmas to come. Not wearily - like those boring old weathermen moaning about snow. This Advent I’m trying to wait expectantly, with my nose to the window, scanning the world for signs of God’s arrival, excited about the greatest miracle of all.
Mind you, if you mention the word ‘Advent’ to my lads they’ll immediately add the word ‘calendar’ long before they ever name-check Christ. That daily nugget of cocoa counts them down to Christmas in one glorious, chocolatey, month-long crescendo of anticipation.
Mary must have anticipated the first Christmas with the growing excitement of any new mother but with added wonder, knowing that her baby was destined to become the One for whom Israel had been praying and waiting so long. Simeon and Anna had been praying expectantly for Christmas all their lives.
The best way to prepare for Christmas is to pray for it – for friends to become Christians, for the poor to be blessed, for more peace in your workplace, more love in your family and a greater sense of God’s presence in your own personal experience. And the more we pray like this, the more expectant we shall become. ‘Truly,’ said Jesus, ‘unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Kids aren’t cynical or jaded. They don tea-towels and angel wings with utter conviction. They see miracles because they live on the look out for excitement, with their noses pressed against the window pane.
So can I encourage you to take time, no make time, in this busy season simply to stop each day and pray? Establish an Advent Prayer Room. Pray the Lord’s Prayer at midday daily. Perhaps you could even reward yourself with a daily square of Swiss chocolate.
As I write it’s snowing. The kids are outside throwing lumps of the stuff at each other. School has been cancelled. Christ shall surely come.