Advent is a time for light of Christ to overcome the darkness
Advent is one of the most attractive times of the Christian year. It is about the promised, coming Messiah. From about 800 BC there was an increasing consciousness in the Jewish people in Israel that a person would come who would bring peace and justice to the nations, open the eyes that are blind, bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
The expected Messiah would come: a child would be born - Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace, there would be no end.
Some 800 years later, the expected Messiah, Jesus, was born in Bethlehem. It is his birth that people around the world will celebrate on Christmas Morning. The promised Messiah has come - King of all the world!
Then, as we celebrate Jesus' birth, we are mindful of the fact that Jesus proclaimed the inbreaking Kingdom of God to great numbers of people. He healed the sick, and showed God's love to those despised and marginalised.
He was crucified, was raised up from the dead, and ascended to his Father in Heaven. Very importantly, he told his followers that he would return in glory and take them to be with him where he is.
And so, in this Advent season, we remember three ways in which we mark the coming of Jesus - the promise of the coming Messiah, the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, and the return of the risen and ascended Christ in glory.
Advent tells us that the world lay in darkness. But then, there is light and hope because 'the light of the world', has been born. Advent is a time to think of the light overcoming the darkness. All that is wrong is put right. New hope shines in the world. Lives are transformed from despair to hope. There is love, joy, peace. Jesus is born in a stable.
As I drive around, I see Christmas trees and their lights shining brightly. I think of the happy, smiling faces of little children as they open their presents excitedly on Christmas Day.
I think of Christmas cards sent and received. People busy buying gifts for loved ones; Christmas music ringing out in shops and stores. In people's places of work, there is the celebration and enjoyment of Christmas lunches, dinners and parties. Soon, people will travel long distances to be united again with their families.
We remember that Mary and Joseph, and the infant Jesus, were given shelter in a stable on that first Christmas Day. In Advent and Christmas, we are prompted to think about those who are in need and try to help where there is poverty, homelessness, disease and suffering. This season is a beautiful time of hope and joy, expectation and light. It is a time when the light of love - of Jesus - shines into our lives. I hope the coming days will provide the opportunity for you and me to pray and worship.
I hope that Christmas Day will be a time when you are immersed in the beauty and joy of Christmas. I hope that you will know the majesty and love of the promised Messiah in your life.