Advent 1 – Entering the World with Jesus

advent-1-lenton-1On Advent Sunday, as we ready ourselves to remember the infant-birth arrival on earth of our Lord and Saviour, the first candle is lit on an Advent wreath as an emblem of our faith. It’s a sign offering hope to all while they make their way through this world’s darkness, and a glowing reminder of the luminous Light of Christ in our lives.

Preparation of home and heart begins to mark the season, leading to our Christmas Day celebrations. Candles burning brightly in a house suggests a warm welcome is being offered. Our homes are meant to be habitations of the heart, places of solace and welcome. Sadly, like many others, I didn’t define“home” quite like that as a child.

Ours was a lonely place I longed to escape from, a site of verbal fights, resentful chill and an abiding air of animosity. I ached inside for genuine love and affection, for the right kind of attention. Maybe a soul is always seeking such things—a haven of peace and rest to feel happy in, a place where we are loved just as we are.

Whether it’s a mud hut or a mansion, I believe a home is more about relationship than bricks and mortar. It should be a safe place, a shelter and sanctuary, though life can be cruel and a family not all you hoped they would be. Ideally, home should be where empty hearts, as well as empty bellies, get filled. A place of belonging, a space to be accepted, be yourself, be loved, and receive a warm welcome that never gets worn out.

As I mull over ways to make room for Jesus in this season, I marvel at God Incarnate making His home on earth, inviting us now to open our hearts and homes to Him. Jesus took on frail human flesh, identified completely with our weakness, and issued an awesome invitation:

God’s home is always open to the hurt and the broken, the lost and the lonely, the homeless and orphaned, the rootless and forgotten, those needing saving from themselves, requiring rescue and release. There is no rejection here, only unconditional love.

Heaven’s only begotten Son becomes our Saviour, Brother, Friend. We are adopted into God’s family, made heirs with Christ, become children of Hope and Promise, as Holy Spirit lives within us. How does this shape our attitude to Advent? We actively remember Jesus coming to earth and we search for signs of Him with us in the here and now.

advent-1-lenton-2

Steep descent

Watch, wait, wonder
and ponder anew
the steep descent
of Love breaking through
to our humanity
bringing light, hope
and clarity to see
how much Father God
desires to be reunited
with you and me

©JoyLenton2016

We look for the Light of His presence in a world growing darker by the day, our hopes ignited by the thought of our Forever Home and Jesus’ glorious reappearing to come. And so we read, reflect, ponder and pray, decorate, celebrate and contemplate the wonder of it all.

Most of all, we make room to receive Jesus anew. Let Him be born again in our thankful hearts. We offer Him a home, a place to feel welcome, a heart journeying ever closer to the spiritual homeland of His presence and a mind engaged more on the heavenly and eternal than the temporary and temporal.

Here’s a helpful link you might like to check out if the practice of lighting Advent candles is new for you, as it is for me. It explains about the candles’ symbolism and suggests why we might enjoy participating in this practice, especially as a family activity. And here’s a lovely Advent candle liturgy from the Godspace archives that you could use as well.

What does the word “home”conjure up for you?