Advent is a beautiful season, celebrated like Lent with purple vestments and altar coverings, but with a rather different emphasis.
It is Mary who especially accompanies us through this season as she waits in wondering silence for the birth of her Son. Who is he, this Jesus, we ask with Mary? Who is he for me and for the world I live in, a world that seems more confused with every passing year?
We can only understand who he is by first looking back in history to the promises God made centuries before his birth, so we listen a lot in Advent to readings from the Jewish prophets. Many of their prophecies also speak of events in the distant future, when God will roll up heaven and earth and create a new world, so we also listen to messages about the end of time.
But above all we try like Mary to push away at least some of the distractions which plague us as the commercialisation and hype of Christmas take hold. We try to find times of silence, for God does not shout at us or force himself on us: he waits for a certain silence and emptiness to reveal themselves in our lives.
So for at least some of the time, turn off the TV and radio, put the computer and mobile phone aside, and listen to God speak to you in Scripture and in the silence of your heart. Spend a few minutes each day quietening down and slowly repeating the great Advent prayer in your heart: ‘Come Lord Jesus.’