Reflections on Advent


Photo credit: Unity Church Albany, New York

Advent means “coming”. It is a season many Christians practice for the four weeks prior to Christmas. According to Wikipedia it is “a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for His Second Coming.”

I observed Advent for the first time last year. Perhaps a better way of describing what I did was I studied it. I didn’t light a candle or do anything else symbolic. I read a few devotionals and spent more time each day just reflecting on Jesus.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience last year so am doing it again. Like last year I’m working through some devotionals to help stimulate my meditations and prayer time.

Once again I’m blown away by Jesus’ humble arrival. The Israelites were expecting a grand entrance by a king. But who turned up? A baby. Born in a barn.

“Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.” (Henri Nouwen)

Margaret Feinberg describes it as “the beautiful paradox”. The world impresses upon us that to be prominent is best. Strength, beauty and size we deeply desire when Jesus does the exact opposite.

In the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the end of year, maybe it’s in the small and seemingly insignificant where we will find Him and our joy. The child’s smile, the unexpected conversation with an old friend, saying ‘hello’ to the person in the checkout aisle.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV)

How exciting is that! He wants to surprise us so we can experience His presence. This Christmas let’s give Jesus our full attention and don’t be surprised if your strongest sense of Him is found in the hidden, the small and weak.

I’ll leave you with Audrey Assad’s beautiful song “Winter Snow” that also reflects on the humbleness of Jesus arrival.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

4 replies
  1. Joanne
    Joanne says:

    Quiet is so much more impressive than LOUD! Beautiful thoughts Ian. Thanks for sharing them.

    “Krismasi Njema” African Christmas greeting. No I’m not back in Africa. Just dreaming. 🙂

  2. Cherie Gagnon
    Cherie Gagnon says:

    Hi Ian…enjoyed this post. Have you read any books by Henri Nouwen? Grant just finished one about community that was such a blessing. Praying that God touches your heart in a special way as you observe Advent this year,

    • Ian
      Ian says:

      Thanks Cherie for your prayerful encouragement. I have read a few Nouwen books, but not sure if I’ve read the one on community. Let me know which one when you get a chance.


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