In case you hadn’t noticed, the Christmas season has started! “Advent” means the coming or arrival of something special. It means getting ready or preparing the way.
Most of us think we know the story of Christmas pretty well by now. The angels sing to the shepherds, the wise men come from the East, and the star twinkles way up in the sky. Advent means presents under the tree, family gatherings, parties, Christmas cards, Hallmark specials and fruitcake. Right?
We forget that “Advent” is part of the word “adventure.” When it only means the familiar, predictable, seasonal things, we lose a sense of the mystery and newness and adventure of it all.
Does Advent feel like an adventure to you? Are you planning to do anything difficult, or different, or dangerous? Are you reaching out in any new or special way? Are you stepping into any unknown territory, or using new talents, or praying in a different way? Are you making any new friends this season?
John’s gospel starts out, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . All things came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing created was made. In the Word was Life, and the Life was the Light of all people. And the Light still shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)
John doesn’t tell us what Jesus looked like, who Jesus’ parents were, where He was born, or what time of the year it was. John is much too excited about something much more important. For John, it’s so simple, and yet he keeps falling all over himself, trying to state this tremendous and exciting truth which changes the world forever.
“In the beginning was the Word!” Each of us knows in our heart what that means. The quiet voice of God which speaks to us without words when we pray. That quiet reassurance, that hope, that wisdom, that guidance, that love that’s always there when we need it.
We know, when we listen to the voice of Jesus, that we’re hearing someone special speak to us. This is more than just an ordinary carpenter speaking here. This is someone who speaks with authority, knowledge, and compassion, with an unshakeable sense of who He is, where He came from, why He came, and where He is going.
People who are rich or poor, free or imprisoned, educated or uneducated, men and women, in every country of the world can hear His voice. What Jesus says can be translated into every language. When we listen to Jesus, all of the barriers of language and nationality don’t seem to matter any more.
Read the stories of Christmas in the Bible over again, even if you think you know them already. Listen to God every day. Try looking for Jesus in unexpected and out-of-the-way places. Try asking Him what He thinks really matters most at this time of the year.
I believe that if you really wait, and listen – He’ll answer. I believe we’re invited to move past all the sentimental stuff, past everything familiar, into the very presence of Christ.
Spend some time with the Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, with the one who calls himself the Prince of Peace.
It’s an adventure!
– Josh Brown