Written by Maricelle Fourie
For most adults, December is one of the craziest months of the year. The month is often filled with Christmas parties and gatherings and festive clothing that we would not dare wear at any other time of the year. Shopping malls are adorned with dazzling lights and beautiful decorations and eager shoppers rush, usually at the last minute, to buy that perfect Christmas gift for a loved one. The year’s hourglass is running empty and ‘what is not finished yet’ must be done before the year is over.
In the eyes of a child, December takes on a whole different meaning: it’s a waiting game! As a child, opening just one little cardboard door on an Advent calendar is the ultimate test of patience – Christmas seems so impossibly far away!
The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:
“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.”
At first glance, Bonhoeffer’s take on Advent is likely not how we see the four weeks leading up to Christmas. For most of us, Advent is a festive time filled with celebrations. We have changed it into a ‘good’ time of the year – who really has the time or energy to think about our spiritual shortcomings or imperfections?
But that is exactly what advent is about!
Advent is truly a waiting game! It is four weeks of self-reflection that brings you to an incredible longing – a longing for things to be different, a longing for Christ to return!
The season of Advent gives us space to remember the anticipation of Jesus’ birth – to celebrate that
“God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”
(1 John 4.9)
But Advent also leads us to look forward to Christ’s return. Through proper quiet time and reflection, it gives context to our personal shortcomings and all the hardships we face in our own lives, and it defines what we are ultimately waiting for in Jesus.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT DIETRICH BONHOEFFER MEANT?
Would you consider making the four Advent weeks a period of reflection?
What would it look like, in the midst of this loud season, to carve out some quiet time with Jesus?
This is what advent is all about – like the child waiting for Christmas – it is a reminder that we are waiting for the best that is yet to come.
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”