Advent has begun. Advent meaning arrival, coming, dawning. We use the word for things inconsequential, heralding the advent of the latest tablet computer or mobile phone. But the Advent with a capital A which we remember again this December is something, someone altogether more noteworthy. This Advent was heralded not by press releases, but by actual heralds - Angels and stars!
If Advent is all about the arrival of the Saviour, then our response is to make room. To create space in this Advent in order to ponder, reflect, prioritise, worship. The old carol writer Phillips Brooks, in 'O little Town of Bethlehem', put it this way.
'How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given,
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.'
It's impossible to know what emphasis Brooks intended for that vital little word in the fourth line, 'still'. I've always liked to think that, even with the comma and the drawing in of breath in the rhythm of the carol, that a certain stillness, a pause of reflection is required for the Advent to be truly recognised in our hearts.
In all the busyness and business of another Christmas, Advent seemingly outflanked and outnumbered between the twin bullies of Black Friday and Boxing Day.....still. Be still, allow Him to come, to make his very real presence known.
Author Robert Boyd Munger wrote the wonderful slim book, 'My Heart, Christ's Home'. The first Advent was launched in a stable, a relief to all of us who haven't cleared up every room of the house before He comes knocking at the door. My heart, your heart, Christ's home?
Make room, Jesus wants to come to us. His Advent, His appearing, silently, imparting His gift to our hearts, our homes, His home amongst us, welcomed by meek souls like ours. Still.