Today is the 1st December, so this morning we opened our family advent calendars – one traditional nativity, one chocolate. Counting down to Christmas is exciting, especially with the promise of presents, delicious food, and time with family and friends. With only a few weeks though until Christmas, I certainly don’t feel ready. There are still plenty of services to plan and sermons to write amidst all the normal busyness of parish life.
With all the preparation, we need to make sure we are keeping our eyes fixed on what we are preparing for. Most of us are living increasingly busy lives. And the busier we are, the less likely we are to stop and think about what is really important, and whether we really need to be doing all the things that come into our diaries. It’s often said that the urgent is the enemy of the important. Making space and time to stop and think is not that easy. And making time for our walk with God can often be down the list of priorities.
However, I have learnt that unless you create that time and space you will just keep on doing the same thing, and wonder why things are as they are. We all need to make space to listen and pray.
Zechariah was ministering as a priest in the temple, when the angel came to him to tell him of God’s amazing plans. He would have a son and he would be a prophet and the forerunner to the Messiah. But Zechariah doubted this word and was made dumb by the angel for a period. We can find it in Luke 1:1-25. I can’t help but think that this time of enforced silence must have given Zechariah time to reflect and have his heart warmed and prepared for the part he was playing in God’s plans.
As we start this Advent, let’s commit ourselves to some self-enforced silence. Let’s try and turn off the TV, switch off the mobile, put a line through our diary, give ourselves time with God and his word. And ask him to prepare you for what he has for you, and for your place in his wonderful plans. If we can commit ourselves to being less busy, and making just some time with him a priority then we and others will benefit from it. But we need to plan it, because it won’t plan itself.