Have you seen the amazing array of Advent Calendars in the stores? Year by year there have been more and more of these Calendars on sale in the supermarkets. Now, Advent Calendars have become as “marketable” as Halloween gear. They are sold as a “count down” for the 25 days of December and usually include lollies or chocolates or other mystery surprises for children.
I believe this marketing change is a great opportunity for the witness of God’s people to the world.
Historically, Advent has barely had a mention in our wider Australian culture. When my children were little, the only Advent calendars for sale were to be found in the Christian bookshops and they usually had the characters in the Nativity. Each week, through the four Sundays of Advent leading up to Christmas, you would slowly make up the full picture of the nativity, with “baby Jesus” appearing last. (You can still buy “Nativity” Advent Calendars but you have to search for them. You might consider getting one and giving it as an Advent gift to family or friends.)
Why do I believe this change in our culture, to put Advent Calendars on sale in supermarkets everywhere, is such a great opportunity for Christian witness?
Advent is about crying out to God. Advent teaches us familiar words of “lament” for the Church. “Lord come and help us.” “Lord come and save us.” “Lord have mercy on us.” These also are familiar cries for people who have travelled through COVID19 in 2020. The people around us as well as the people of the Church know this common yearning as we have travelled together, through this difficult year of pandemic: “Come Lord Jesus, come into this weary world. O how we long for you to come Lord, come.” (LHS 731)
The Advent Calendar links this yearning to the promise fulfilled in the nativity, where Angels and Shepherds will unite in praise to God for the “thing which the Lord has made known to us” in the birth of the Christ Child. This is the Gospel. God has not abandoned us to suffer in loneliness. God comes amongst us, born in a box in Bethlehem, to bring peace on earth.
God bless your witness through this coming Advent and Christmas time, that the people around us would be ushered into the hope-filled light – that is Christ Jesus, our Lord.
“But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)