Advent is a time of preparation. The messages of the Hebrew prophets and of John the Bapitzer tell us that repentance is a necessary element when we are preparing for God’s entrance into our lives. The call to repentance is a call to examine our lives and change directions in ways that open our lives for God to do something new.
At this time of year, many people turn again to the wonderful Victorian era classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. As I read it, A Christmas Carol is really an Advent story. The surly old curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge, lives a miserly existence with his entire being. Then he is visited in a dream by three Christmas ghosts. He sees his past and then his present. But what is most frightening to him, what shakes him to the core, is the vision of his future. Scrooge awakens to find that nothing has changed. Dickens says, “The bedpost was his own. The bed was his own. The room was his own.” Then Dickens adds, in what might be an Advent text, “Best and happiest of all, the time before him was his own, to make amends in.”
Scrooge undergoes a radical transformation and becomes an entirely new person. He leaves behind the cold and indifferent miser and becomes generous and compassionate. He seizes the time and becomes what the Bible might call “a new creation.” The world has not changed, but he has!
It is a heart-warming story. But more than that, it is a hopeful story. It provides us with the hope that we too can have a change of heart and mind when we know we should. John the Baptizer tells us that someone is coming, someone so spectacular that it is not enough simply to hang around waiting for him to arrive. It is time to get ready, to prepare the way, so that when he comes he can walk a straight path right to us.
That’s what makes the news good! The call to wake up and change directions is filled with the promise that something new is about to happen right before our eyes and in our lives. The time before us is our own “to make amends in” as we prepare room for God to make us new creatures. May this Advent be such a time for you!