Advent is an invitation to enter into the plan of God for the whole human family. Ours is a world that God loves so much that he sends his only Son, Jesus, to live among us. It’s a radical choice, a huge risk, and yet ‘even though his state was divine’ he humbled himself and was born into our human condition. The simplicity of his entry into the world, the brevity of his public life, the power of his message, the brutality of his death and the glory of his return to the Father is explored each year in the life and liturgy of the Church.

This Sunday is the starting point of that journey. It begins with our awareness that as he came once so to he will come again. The in the second part of Advent we move into reflection on his Nativity. It is a very short Advent this year just 21 days, so not a lot of time to slow down, focus on the plan of God, clear away the clutter and prepare a rebirthing space in our hearts for the divine.

The first candle on the evergreen wreath will be a pin prick of light to guide us, a light that grows in these days until the circle is complete and we are ready to place a light for Him at the centre and celebrate the birth long ago in a stable that heralds this arrival into our common humanity. Hope, Peace, Joy, Love are simple names to assign to the candles but they are also the signposts to Bethlehem and beyond.

When the question is asked, ‘what do you want for Christmas?’ maybe both spiritual and material gifts can be dreamed about.