Advent Devotional Introduction (part 4)

On Sunday, November 29th and every day until Christmas, a daily reflection will appear to accompany and inspire readers in their own time of preparation.

Highways in the Desert

by Matthew B. Harper


Part 4

click here to start with Part 1 (in case you missed it)

Advent and Christmas fall in the winter months in most parts of the world. But the cold barrenness of winter is not just mitigated by the memory of fall, or the hope of spring. We use the evergreen trees, the mistletoe, and the poinsettia to mark the season because amidst the cold snow they are a vibrant explosion of life. They are a reminder that in the cycles of the year, even the cold and hard ones, God is active with new and wonderful life.

So I write to share the same with you. I write to speak as one in the desert, of how God is real and present in this barren place. Parables and stories have power, and I want to offer you some of mine so that you might find witness to God. We all have times in the desert; whether we choose to seek its solitude, or are thrust out into it through circumstance. God is with us in the desert.

But being in the desert begs of us to take action. God will not simply barge into our lives, we must invite God in. ‘Prepare ye a highway’ cries the prophets, and so we must. In our times of barrenness we must prepare an entryway for the Lord. This highway is not only the way of the Lord to us; it will also be our way back into loving community. In the midst of chaotic Christmas I challenge you to do this. To find a daily discipline of prayer and study that leads you to God in a new and wonderful way. To let Christ be born again in your heart in a wonderful joy.

In a fast paced and instantly gratified culture Advent has quickly become a forgotten season. Instead of a time marked by spiritual preparation for Christ, and a time remembering the long wait both for his birth and his return, we have traded our Advent for a time of store sales and wrapping paper. Advent and Christmas are not really about gifts, they aren’t really about lights in the trees. Advent is a time to remember the amazing gifts of God. When our relationship with God was broken, when there was nothing that we could ever hope to do to heal it, it was then that God came to us. God came not in the terrifying majesty and anger that God has a right to, but God came as an infant and humble baby boy, full of love, to offer his very life as a sacrifice for us. Christ has come, and healed this rift with God. This is God’s constant and present gift to all of humanity.

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