As we enter the final month of 2015 we will focus on the last of our Salvation Army core values; Intimacy with God. And as this is the first week of Advent, I will attempt to marry these 2 themes.
Advent is the season of four weeks leading up to Christmas. In the Christian calendar, Advent actually marks the beginning of our year.
So, Happy New Year!
The word ‘Advent’ originates from the Latin ‘adventus’, meaning ‘to come’. The idea of Advent is to spend time reflecting on and longing for the arrival of Jesus so as to make everything that is wrong with the world, right once and for all. Christians refer to this as ‘the 2nd coming of Christ’. In Greek this is referred to as ‘parousia’ which is a word linked with ‘adventus’ in its origins.
So during Advent we slow down, reflect on life, pray and remember the things that are not right with the world. There are many: homelessness, poverty, violence, injustice, war, hatred, racism, hunger, environmental decay. The list is depressing. While we remember those things, we pray and long for the return of Christ. The closer we get to Christmas, the deeper our longing and impatience gets as we wait for the big day.
This is where ‘Intimacy with God’ comes in. As Christians we believe we can be in relationship with Jesus. Intimacy requires doing our best to spend time cultivating that relationship. It means being intentional about not getting caught up in the noise all around us. And Christmas can be the noisiest time of the year. We pray to the God of the universe who knows everything about the cosmos, but also knows each and every one of us by our names. Having intimacy with God hopefully leads to a faith and a hope that one day Jesus will keep His promise and come back to set everything right once and for all.
This is our ultimate hope.
This Advent, while we wait we will continue to strive to do our little part, in line with what we think Jesus would have us do, to try to restore the world to some kind of order and peace.
So let’s keep on striving to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City’ this season.
Dion Oxford, Mission Strategist
God of hope,
As we enter this season of Advent, we pray that this time will be different.
This Christmas we will stop rushing, we will breathe, and take notice of you and your works in the world.
May we be mindful of our actions, that they be peace-filled and our words loving as Christ is in the world