Doing Advent is a bit like doing jigsaws – you start with one piece and gradually build up the picture. This year’s build-up to Christmas started early. A penguin lights up a front garden; there’s a reindeer in another. ‘Christmas’ lights have brightened local houses – inside and out – since October. What joy they give on ever-darkening afternoons here in the UK! This year we need as many bright lights as possible.

We take one day at a time, place pieces of a jigsaw puzzle one by one, open one door each day on the Advent calendar. When the jigsaw or Advent calendar is completed we see the whole picture.

In Advent we prepare for something special to happen, for someone special to come. Father Christmas? Yes, according to my current jigsaw puzzle where a little girl hands a letter to the postman for special delivery to Santa. Jesus? Yes, for Christians he’s the someone special. His is a double coming. The first time was a couple of millennia ago – as Saviour and as light into a dark world, to give hope and banish fears, even in the darkness. Advent also looks ahead to a second coming of Jesus – when he’ll return to the world as judge and as King. The world will be renewed. Paradise lost, paradise regained.

How should we live in these in-between times – between first and second comings? Maybe we’ll recognise piece by piece who Jesus is, and build up a picture of why he came and how the first and second comings impact us – and impact us more than electric penguins, Father Christmas or chocolate behind calendar doors ever could. Happy Advent!

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