Advent – a two-way relationship

Our Advent messages this year focus on the idea that Jesus coming into this world is a past, present and future event. We are used to reflecting on the fact that Jesus came to us 2,000 years ago in the person of a tiny baby, born to be the Saviour of the world. And Advent is equally an opportunity, which we sometimes neglect, to look forward to the time when he will come again and gather all of creation to himself (Ephesians 1:10) and restore things to the way they ought to be.

But we live in between those times, so I wonder whether Advent is for the ‘here and now’, as well as being an opportunity to remember the events leading up to Jesus’ incarnation and to anticipate his second coming? In what way does Jesus ‘come to us’ now?

The obvious answer is that he sends his Holy Spirit to help us live for God today. Jesus told his disciples on several occasions that after he had left them, he would send the Holy Spirit to help them – and us – to continue his work. And if we, the Church, are continuing Jesus’ work then, as the body of Christ, we have a daily opportunity to bring Jesus into the lives of everyone we encounter, and into each other’s lives.

However, although Jesus takes the initiative in coming to us, he does not impose himself on us. He invites us to accept his offer to be ‘Immanuel – God with us’. We therefore need to respond. James encourages us to ‘Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.’ (James 4:8), and the great passage in Hebrews 10 makes it clear that we are able to draw near to God because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

So the initiative is now with us. If advent means ‘waiting’, perhaps in these ‘in-between times’ God waits for our response to his first coming, just as much as we wait for his second coming? This Advent season, why not take the opportunity to draw close to God again, so that you may experience the joy of him drawing close to you in a new way?

With my love and prayers
Matthew Scott