Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reflections on Advent

Photo credit: Unity Church Albany, New York

Advent means “coming”. It is a season many Christians practice for the four weeks prior to Christmas. According to Wikipedia it is “a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for His Second Coming.”

I observed Advent for the first time last year. Perhaps a better way of describing what I did was I studied it. I didn’t light a candle or do anything else symbolic. I read a few devotionals and spent more time each day just reflecting on Jesus.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience last year so am doing it again. Like last year I’m working through some devotionals to help stimulate my meditations and prayer time.

Once again I’m blown away by Jesus’ humble arrival. The Israelites were expecting a grand entrance by a king. But who turned up? A baby. Born in a barn.

“Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.” (Henri Nouwen)

Margaret Feinberg describes it as “the beautiful paradox”. The world impresses upon us that to be prominent is best. Strength, beauty and size we deeply desire when Jesus does the exact opposite.

In the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the end of year, maybe it’s in the small and seemingly insignificant where we will find Him and our joy. The child’s smile, the unexpected conversation with an old friend, saying ‘hello’ to the person in the checkout aisle.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV)

How exciting is that! He wants to surprise us so we can experience His presence. This Christmas let’s give Jesus our full attention and don’t be surprised if your strongest sense of Him is found in the hidden, the small and weak.

Wishing all of the ICFW writing and reading community a Jesus-full Christmas. 

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. Thanks, Ian. I'm glad you found time to prepare through Advent to celebrate the coming of Jesus--we can so easily lose sight of what this season is all about. And I think you're right when you suggest that maybe we will sense Jesus most in the little events that occur this time of year. This happened to me yesterday, as I watched our grandson's face when I showed him the people and animals in our nativity set and let him pick up the baby Jesus in the manger. He doesn't know what it's all about--he's only two--but one day I pray he will and that he will focus on Jesus with that same sense of wonder that was on his little face yesterday. Have a special Christmas, Ian.

  2. Ian, thanks for sharing your Advent season. A great way to stay focused on Jesus :)