In today’s gospel reading, with Christmas just around the corner, we get our first glimpse of Mary and Joseph, and their obedience to God’s unfolding plan for the salvation of the world. How can we, like them, hear and understand God’s call on us in our lives? And what does it mean to respond in obedience?
The task given to John the Baptist, who appears in this morning’s gospel reading for the first time this Advent, is to “Prepare the way of the Lord” amongst the people. And in today’s collect, which we’ve just prayed together, we asked for God to ‘purify our hearts and minds’ in order that ‘we might be ready to receive him [Christ], who is our Lord and our God.’ So what does it mean for us to prepare our hearts and minds this Advent? And how can we, as Christ’s Church, be ‘ready to receive him’ when he appears?
In today’s readings for Advent Sunday, we are introduced to the great Advent imagery of the Old and New Testaments — contrasting themes of darkness and light, night and day, and in particular, sleeping and waking. The prophet Isaiah, the apostle Paul and Jesus himself warn us ‘wake up’ and be prepared for Christ’s coming. So what does it mean for us today to live as ‘Advent Christians’, to be those who are awake in a slumbering world?