When we talk about the ‘advent’ of something we’re talking about the introduction, or the start. When someone talks about “the advent of the computer age” we think of the journey from Alan Turing through to today. There’s lots of highlights en route. The first BBC computers. The first games consoles and personal computers. Then smart phones, terabyte drives, wi-fi, bluetooth, and so much more. I can remember watching Star Trek and people talked to their computers. I never thought I’d see that in my lifetime and now people do it all the time.
We’re in advent now, the start of the Christmas event, the introduction to Christmas. During this time we prepare for what is to come, knowing what is about to unfold. We’ve done it many times, taken the journey each year, and yet every time it’s different. The goal is still the same, but there are still surprises and changes along the way.
This year our circumstances may be very different to last year. Our health may have changed. Where we live may have changed. Our work situation may be different. We may have met someone special. We may have lost someone special. Every year it’s different. And every year it’s the same.
Christmas is about allowing an incredible event to be a marker in our year. An event so significant that everything else is seen in its light. It’s a celebration more important than the cycles of the year or reaching midwinter. It’s about God reaching into the world in a way that is so utterly preposterous it staggers us. God becomes one of us, completely. Not as some rich king but as the illegitimate son of a young refugee family. God comes to us in such a marginal event that its importance is only seen decades later. It’s as if, in the eternal game of hide and seek God says to us “bet you never thought to look for me there!”
I have no doubt that in years to come we’ll look at some event in recent history that turns out to be a prominent marker in the computer age. Right now some ‘apple’ or ‘windows’ type product is being invented, some breakthrough is being made, and everything will change. We’ll look back at it and say “who knew?” It seemed so insignificant at the time.
What Jesus did was to change the world. The way we understood God and related to God would never be the same. How we saw ourselves in creation would always be different. And December would always herald the advent of something new. Even now Christmas is on the horizon, moving towards us. Even now we are reminded that God is coming into the world, is in the world, and that nothing will be quite the same ever again.