The Coming of the Lord

Half a millennium before Christ, Isaiah “saw” the coming of the Lord and it energised his message. In Isaiah’s words, “Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” And then a softer tone, “He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms”.

What a wonderful, anticipatory phrase “the coming of …” is. Especially, the coming of the Lord. We know this as Advent, a season of preparation. In years gone by many preparations were made for Christmas – there was the ritual of stir up Sunday, making the Christmas pudding, putting in the sixpence, making Christmas food and making and storing presents. This took place before Advent which is a penitential time to prepare the Soul to receive Jesus.

The period of waiting, wanting and hoping for the Lord seems faintly out of touch with our increasingly secular society. Many shops put up their decorations for Christmas months ago with special shopping events and offers. The lights are up in the shopping centres urging people to spend. And spend they will with the average person spending £602 (40% more than last year). It seems that many people are planning to spend more on this year’s celebrations and gifts.

Does this mean as Christians that we should go with the flow? I remember in my childhood that we prepared the house for Christmas on Christmas Eve. There were obviously some practical arrangements made during Advent. But there was a contrast between Advent and Christmas in a way which is hard to see now. Advent has become a preparation season for Christmas rather than a penitential time. With all the Carol Services, School Services and Christmas fayres, it is a very busy time. And yet we still need to prepare ourselves in a spiritual way to receive Jesus otherwise something very precious is lost. It can easily become a mad commercial selfish festival devoid of any real meaning. The phrase that Christmas is really for the Children could not be further from the truth!

In our hearts we long for the presence of the Lord, Jesus Christ, who comes to us in human form to save us from ourselves. If you are expecting to receive visitors into your home this Christmas would you do so without any planning? In Advent we make ourselves ready to receive Jesus afresh in our hearts. The joy of Christmas is to be found in the coming of God into our hearts and homes. Have a blessed Christmas.

Mark Binney