The season of Advent is celebrated in many Christian traditions. Advent marks a season of preparation for the true meaning of Christmas. The word ‘Advent’ originates from the Latin word ‘coming’. In our modern context it helps us to take stock of the past year and to spiritually prepare us for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

I find this time of personal and communal reflection deeply valuable as usually the Christmas season is so hectic, rushed and exhausting for all of us. Pausing every Sunday (or even on a daily basis) allows us to ‘breathe’ in the hope, joy, peace and love of Jesus Christ.

A LESSON IN THE NIGHT

I recently allowed my friends to sign me up for a Night Trail run. I must confess, trail running in the dark was not my first choice for a fun Friday evening. Standing at the start line I tried to look as calm as I could. I was somewhat nervous. I wasn’t really afraid (as in ‘swimming in shark infested waters’ afraid), but it was the anxiety of the unexpected that concerned me.

It is amazing how your mind can run away from you in times like this – and so I began to think about things like: what happens if I take the wrong path? Will there be people to show me the way? What if I trip and fall?

Anyway, soon the hooter sounded and the runners bolted into the darkness. After a few minutes of running the athletes started to spread out along the trail. At one point I remember looking up and noticing hundreds of headlamps snaking their way up the side of the hill. With a little imagination it looked like a long string of Christmas tree lights. This was the exact moment I remember feeling a great sense of peace come over me. It is hard to explain, but I suddenly knew that everything on that trail run was going to be fine, despite the darkness and all my fears.

Even as you are reading this, you may be nervously reflecting on your unique personal challenges; struggling to know which way to turn in the future; feeling exhausted at the end of the hectic year; or just experiencing a great deal of anxiety.

THE LIGHT OF CHRIST

Advent offers us a time to look up to the hillside and to see the other ‘headlamps’ going before us. As David reflected:

“I lift my eyes to the hills.

Does my help come from them?

It comes from the Lord.

The Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121)

As you pause a little this festive season, may you suddenly experience the peace of Christ as Holy Spirit fills your heart. May you remember that Jesus is the Light of the World and lights up the path on the personal ‘trail runs’ of our lives. May we also be reassured that there are many other Christians running the race with us. We don’t need to be afraid of what lies ahead of us.

This Advent season try not to stress so much about the path ahead. Simply put your ‘faith headlight’ on and trust Jesus as you put one foot in front of the next.

In faith believe the truth of Psalm 119:105 ““Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

If you have never attended any Advent services, then I encourage you to find one at a local church near your home. Use this time to allow the light of Christ to shine upon your heart and wait for the arrival of the Messiah.

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