What do Paw Patrol, Frozen, Star Wars and Jesus have in common? They all feature on Advent calendars. Which is the most popular? Probably the one with most chocolate.

The countdown to Christmas begins as each door on the Advent calendar is opened. It’s a waiting game. 24 hours x 24 days and all will be revealed: the contents of Christmas wrapping paper, the turkey, and the remembrance of Jesus’ entry into the world.

In the Biblical run-up to the first Christmas the waiting involved angels rather than Advent calendars. An angel visited Mary, a young girl hardly out of puberty, and told her she would give birth to God’s son. Joseph, the alarmed betrothed of Mary, also received a message and had to decide whether to abandon or support Mary. These recipients of bewildering news were to hang in there and let God work. They waited, trusted, and their lives – and the lives of billions of people since – were revolutionised by events that would have repercussions worldwide for centuries to come.

We wait, throughout Advent, for Christmas: a winter festival of cheeriness on dark days and a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ. When that baby born in Bethlehem grew up, he went about doing good, was a brilliant teacher, story-teller and healer, died as Saviour, rose from death and is back in heaven. But, he said, “I’ll come again” – not to be reborn in a mucky stable but as the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. This promise may be unknown to many, and little attention is given to it by those who’ve heard it but, if you believe Jesus’ promise, it will happen.

Two Advents: one starts today and one is still to come. Are you prepared – for one or the other or both?

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