Article of the week: Awe in the ordinary

27 November 2021

Major Peter Mylechreest considers the meaning of Advent

ADVENT is a time to reflect and ponder the birth of Jesus. It’s more than a birth foretold by prophets, more than the unexpected series of events that meant he was born in Bethlehem, more than the message given to working men to leave their sheep and see the announced baby, and more than the visit later by distinguished individuals who came to worship him. The greatest wonder is that he who called all things into existence took upon himself the fragility and helpless dependence of a tiny child. It leaves us speechless. We need time to reflect on that.

Advent instructs us in the danger of looking for the divine in the wrong places. Jesus was not born in some magnificent palace, in the halls of power or the elaborate Temple, but in a place where domestic animals were fed.

Jesus today can be discovered in the mundane and ordinary.

We need to keep that in mind when confronted with the spectacular that could so easily dazzle, and instead look for traces of his presence in everyday situations. This baby banishes the world’s conceptions about power and position. He affirms that God really is with us in the commonplace.

Advent hushes our noise and fills us with awe, wonder and humility. That the Saviour – our Saviour – should come in this manner to a troubled world is truly amazing.

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by endless news reports and articles on social media of problems surrounding us. While we need to be informed, we mustn’t take our eyes off Jesus. Mary and Joseph were caught up in the current of events that were beyond their understanding, yet they trusted God. They fearlessly gave of themselves, faithfully committed to nurturing the child Jesus in uncertain circumstances, facing an unknown future.

When clouds of doubt and pessimism confront us, we too must focus on Jesus. His light can scatter darkness.

Advent celebrates the fact that new, innocent life brings something special. A beautiful, fascinating and engaging aspect ensues.

The birth of any baby is normally met with a mixture of emotions – excitement, happiness and trepidation. Even in circumstances when the events leading up to the birth may not have been welcomed by everyone, Heaven still touches our hearts when a child is born.

The fears of a maiden mother were dispelled by the whispered promise of the Holy Spirit’s presence. We can celebrate that and sense his gentle leadings in our lives.

Advent also encourages us to think about the time, at some point in the future, when Jesus will return clothed in light and all will see him for who he is. If his first coming led to the shame of the cross, his second coming will be in great glory, accompanied by hosts of angels.

We are to watch and pray and remain faithful at all times. When will Jesus return in great glory? No one knows and we shouldn’t speculate. But in the words of William Booth: ‘Those most ready for Christ’s second coming will be those busy telling others of his first coming!’ 


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