Why Do We Need Advent?

Since September, retail stores and supermarkets have been pushing Christmas. For the last few weeks at the Indooroopilly shopping centre there has been children queuing up for a photo with Santa – seven weeks before Christmas Day! Now I do not wish to be a killjoy, but if we are not careful, the concept of spiritually preparing for the Nativity of our Lord (or anything for that matter) is gone. Advent is the season of preparation for that great festival of the Incarnation. I know we still must be ready for Christmas, with Christmas cards and presents, and where Christmas dinner will be held etc, etc. However, on Sundays during Advent we keep that season, so that we enter fully into the incredible mystery of the greatness of Who It Is that is born for us. If Christmas is only about a cute baby born to a nice Jewish mum, then we have lost the plot – and it is why we need Advent. The Gospel reading for this Advent Sunday is about staying awake, being ready for the end of time, judgement, and the coming of the Lord. Not the sort of thing for Christmas cards! But it reminds us that the cute baby at Nazareth is the Judge, the Lord, and our Master. He is Christ our God, Saviour, and High Priest, which is not on display in in shopping centres. Advent is the season that shapes our understanding of Whom It Is that we welcome on Christmas Day. The Collect for the day sum this all up:

Almighty God,

give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness,

and put upon us the armour of light,

now in the time of this mortal life,

in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;

that in the last day,

when he shall come again in his glorious majesty

to judge both the quick and the dead,

we may rise to the life immortal.