Advent is the time to prepare for the coming of God. How good is that – and how huge? So it’s wonderful to rejoice and celebrate in the midst of our more sober reflections and resolutions. So Welcome: it’s good you are coming. Life is full of coming and going, beginning and ending, and Advent can remind me of Lent when we look towards the holiest cross, so soon transformed into glorious Easter.
I recall an old Dutch friend saying to me, “You are always welcome – if not in your coming, at least in your going!” Much wisdom comes as jest and the coming of Christmas is overwhelming the going of Good Friday, so that the majesty of Easter is lost in Easter eggs. A recent BBC broadcast, in listing what Christmas brings, made no mention at all of the birth of Christ, now being lost in the pagan celebration of Winter, the frenzy of shopping for gifts, the logistics of a grand meal, the endless stream of Christmas cards to retain some vestige of contact with people we have ignored throughout the year. All these have goodness in them but what a pity to hide the coming to us of our Saviour.
He came, and still comes, in the form of a baby. No prince in purple robes, a great palace or heralded with some vast procession, but in a makeshift crib nestling in common straw, warmed only by beasts of the field. Such an incongruous paradox, that the Creator of all our universes should come to earth as someone like you and me, only more humble and poor, to help us become more like Him. God likes jokes, reversing and turning inside out what we expect, as when He enjoins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Those who fail to realise how serious is his message have missed the point of the joke.
And also its hope, even for the worst of us, brought by our new little King.