advent 1st

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. What does this mean to you and me? For that matter what does Advent mean to us? The word itself means “Coming”. What is coming? Who is coming? And what does this coming mean to us?

If we were told that in a month’s time, a famous sports star, an actor or actress, a governor, a president, or a billionaire would be walking down our street, past our home. How would we re-act? What would we do? Clean up our house? Paint it? Fix the broken fence? Tidy up our best clothes in anticipation of the person’s arrival? Oh, there is so much that we would want to do, so that he/she would see us at our best.

However, none of these personages are coming, so you can put away the paint, and the hammer and nails. But it is interesting to note that we would do all of that preparation for any one of those figureheads. And … why? To put ourselves, our lives forward in the best possible light, of course. You know, as well as I that we would go to extraordinary lengths, just to have these people find us pleasing. We want them to think well of us.

At this time of the year, we remember and celebrate the birth of an infant. The person who IS coming is a fragile, defenseless, guileless infant. Not an ordinary baby, by no means. This baby will teach us love and kindness, will preach integrity and honesty, and will encourage us to give these treasures to all, whom we encounter.

This child is special. He is greater than any king or president, and is known by almost everyone in the world. What will we do to prepare for His coming? We have a scant twenty four days, before His birthday is celebrated. What preparation do we need to do? The answer is different for each of us. Each one of us must look within ourselves, and find that special gift that needs dusting off, that needs polishing, that needs to be brought out into the light. The infant does not require it. He does not demand it. But, He gave to each of us a gift that when used, will bring Him to others. If we truly honor and love this Child, then His teachings of love and kindness, of integrity and honesty are already within us, waiting to be shown to the world.

“Oh, I can’t do that, I would look foolish”. “That isn’t what I am about”. “I would be too embarrassed to do that.” Whatever it is, inside you, that you feel would make Jesus happy, that is the gift He has given to you. It was given, not to be put under a bushel basket, but to be displayed to the world. We can think up hundreds of reasons why we can’t, we couldn’t. Can we think of one reason why we should?

Buying and giving gifts seems so normal, so natural at this time of year. We spend much time and money looking for “special” things to buy for our loved ones. Look within yourself to see what “special” things are there already, waiting for you to bring out of your sack and give to others. Is there someone, you know, who needs a drive somewhere? Is there someone who is sick and would love some company to chat with? Which of your friends do you know has suffered a loss and is not taking care of themselves, properly? Do they need food? Would they like your help in cleaning their house? What talents do you have, that they would enjoy? It doesn’t have to be about money. It has to be about giving of our self, our time, our affection.

We have twenty four days and counting. Each day leads us closer to His birthday. Begin now — a prayer here, an act of kindness there. Each gift that we give now is not to be done, just so we can check if off of a list. Each gift is given because we love the infant that is coming. By giving to others, we express our espousal of His doctrine, our embrace of His teachings. We give, so that in some way, we can say, “Thank you” back to Him, for all that He has given us.