Today is the First Sunday of Advent. It’s always a special time of year: way before Christ the King even happens, we see the first signs of the Christmas season coming into full display. Christmas music starts playing, malls are decked out in ornaments and wreaths, and the typical flavours of peppermint and egg nog start to grace our taste buds.
But beyond all of these reminders of Christmas, there is a period of four weeks where we prepare and contemplate His coming.
I’ve heard the story of the birth of Jesus so many times growing up: A couple travel a great distance back to their city of origin. She’s pregnant and needs a place to have her baby, but there’s no room in any inn. So the baby is born in the humblest of states: on a bed of hay, surrounded only by His parents and whatever barn animals were present in the stable.
This is the birth of our Lord. This is how He came to become one with us.
He didn’t come down in a great chariot of fire, donning expensive robes and a crown to show His Kingship. In fact, His birth is the exact opposite of what I experienced: at least I was in a hospital, born into a safe and clean environment. But our Lord, despite who He is, wanted to be one with us. No wonder He is Emmanuel - God with us.
I've been reflecting on this a lot lately, especially as we come into the last little bit of this year and the last stretch of this decade. As I think back over how much has changed in my own life over the past 10 years, I am bewildered and surprised and in such awe. From my educational life to my professional life, from my physical and mental health, from my close friendships to romantic relationships, so much has changed. There have been constant states of flux, highs and lows, ebbs and flows.
But God has remained faithful through it all.
Even when I wasn't faithful - and there were so many times where I wasn't in my life - He was still there with me. He loved me first when I couldn't love myself. Even in the darkest parts of my life where I fought with depression and suicide, He was unmoved and unchanged. His love for me never left, and in fact, only grew stronger as the years went on.
And as we approach a new decade, I can say that my love for HIm has grown stronger over time, too.
I am thankful for the ever present gift of reconciliation and coming back to the father when I have fallen short. In this season of Advent, I reflect on this fact especially.
God didn't need to be with us. He could have dealt with us from afar, dictating every last move from the comfort of heaven and allow us to struggle on our own. But we have a God that loves us so much that He couldn't wait to be with us. He gave us the best Christmas gift ever.
But I'm getting ahead of myself: In the same way that we patiently wait for God to reveal His plan for our lives, we need to patiently await His coming.
After all, He's patiently waited for us to turn back to Him. And He will continue to wait, free of judgement and full of love.
Turn back to Him. Prepare the way for His coming.