The statement would be do you prefer Christmas or Easter?It’s a little like that joke, which came first the chicken or the egg.You see you cannot have Easter without Christmas, and you cannot have the meaning of Christmas without the impact of Easter.
Christmas, and more importantly Advent is about waiting to find that special place where God creeps bedside us, where he slips into the world. Advent is a time to prepare for that moment, and in the gospel of Matthew Jesus states, we should be ready and prepared for the moment.
Can you remember when Jesus came and crept in beside you ?
I can recall many instances this year where God slipped in beside me. You see advent is not so much about the arrival, but the journey we take to arrive at that, moment. It is important that we travel, spiritually, emotionally and some physically through the seasons in search of that ‘thin place’ where God is waiting.. I say thin, because we may miss it.
‘Thin places’, where earth and heaven merge even for a short time are all around if we are prepared to look.
As a nurse I remember a women who was dying , she did not welcome visitors, but she would always want a chair pulled up next to her bed. Everyone was really concerned that she deterred visitors and even refused visits. Her room was always one of peace and tranquilly, yet none of us could work out why until she told us. She said that she imagined that all her family and friends who had gone before her were sat close, very close to her, and Jesus sat there too, talking and laughing with her.
Are we prepared to look for the thin places and find God?
In Advent, many people seek a mountain top exhilaration, and excitement of the Christmas season, however you may feel it has been an uphill slog for quite a while. If you have been ill, unemployed, bereaved, disappointed and especially at Advent we remember those people who have been affected by the HIV/AIDS Virus… yet it is in the mundane and ordinary where God shows his face, I want to recall two such incidences that I have met God in a thin place .
For me Zambia is a place where I have always felt God presence, not in the wealth, for there is little wealth, but in the poverty. I have been truly blessed to meet God in the thin place, that veil of a place between heaven and earth , the heaven showing the reality of God’s love ,and the earthly poverty of human selfishness and greed . At home I have a pot, a clay pot, similar to the clay pot recalled in Jeremiah, where God breaks a pot and then puts it back together. The pot was given to me by Maria , an elderly Zambian lady who lives in the bush. In her I see all the hope for her family, the joy of her grandchildren and the pain of living with a deadly Virus, HIV/AIDS. She has brought up her 13 grandchildren, as her children have all died of the virus. In that pot… she holds her dreams, her hopes for the world she lives in , she hold the pain, and suffering , but she also hold the love and peace of God , and she waits… she knows she waits with God.
Yet in her face, I have meet God,
her eyes crinkled with joy of motherhood,
and yet eyes that have cried so many tears,
her skin and hands rough from working the land,
are the hands that held me in warmth love and genuine affection.
As I looked at Maria, I truly felt the love of God enfold me through the pain of her living.
Secondly, on a dark August night, I undertook a 24 prayer vigil at church. As I waited patiently for the hour and minute hand to move around , a wonderful thing happened, I felt a peace, a tranquillity, an unhurried presence , where I rested in God’s presence.My calling a minister was affirmed that night , where as a looked a mirror to aid my prayers , I stared at my reflection and felt God say to me you are my daughter with whom I am pleased.
Our calling through Advent is to stand firm to our promise and our calling as disciples… to be faithful to God and all that God asks of us. As you stand on the brink of waiting for God to creep beside you, remember that God delights in you, and for you who wait and stay alert….. glorious things will happen .
We are always waiting for what God would want of us, and God creeps besides us in the ordinary and the mundane.God may present an opportunity, a thin and spiritual place may occur and he will see who is awake and who is sleeping !!! As we light the Advent candle each week , I pray that God will continue to lightened our journey, not just as individuals but as people who are committed to serve and to allow Jesus to serve you, through the many people who work in his name
Which statement do you prefer, Easter or Christmas, don’t forget that you cannot have one without the other, you cannot have the waiting without the result.