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Happy Advent

In the days when four growing children guzzled money much faster than it could be earned, my wife and I  usually made our own Christmas cards. I can still relive the panic and the mess, the dining room table covered in potato prints, glue and glitter, spray paint and stencils, or whatever that year's design involved.

One year, we tried to take up the theme of the ‘second advent’, the time when Jesus will come again, and I suspect in the process left all the happy recipients of our cards completely bemused! There are many believers for whom 1 John 3.3 - the verse we used (see box top right) - doesn't mean a lot, so it must have been a real head-scratcher for those outside the faith, or have seemed like a rather clumsy attempt to get at them. Perhaps it's repressed embarrassment that brings that verse to mind at this time of year!

Nevertheless for me there are two ways in which Advent, and this verse, are important. First, it's the time when we remember the Patriarchs, the Prophets and the Virgin Mary, all of whom, with John the Baptist, ‘made straight the way of the Lord’ (Luke 3.4). And that call is to us as well: Advent reminds us of our role in ‘making straight the way of the Lord.’

Secondly, since the first Christmas and until Jesus comes again, he is incarnated, enfleshed, in his followers, the body of Christ, the church. It is in and through his people that Jesus walks the Earth in this in-between era. We could, perhaps, remember this and turn round 1 John 3.2b: “when we are like him, he will be revealed.” We may not be able to hasten the second coming, but we can be part of it!

So amidst all the pre-Christmas activity, I want to pay some attention to who I am; we are ‘human beings’ after all, and not ‘human doings’. Happy Advent!

Yours in Christ

Peter Nicholls


2 Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3.2-3)

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