A few years ago when I was speaking in Formby, the young man who introduced me said that he had fallen in love with God many years earlier and that his desire for God actually increased every day. He described how he woke up each day thirsting for God with such depth that at times it took his breath away and reduced him to tears.
The challenge for me was to ask myself the question: 'Do I desire God that much?' It's a huge challenge to those of us who are religious people. Are we looking to the unexpected and the inexplicable to find God? Are our eyes open or half shut? Is our search for God all consuming?
More than that, is the God we desire and search for and wait for a God that we have created for ourselves. Maybe it's a God with whom we're comfortable – or is our image of God changing daily as we open ourselves to the unexpected encounter and the wildness of God who can't be contained within the walls of a church, the pages of a book or the images we have in our minds?
You see, Advent is a time to reflect on our desire for God and how real or otherwise it is. It's not just a preparation for Christmas but an opening up to a God who is other than we are and who writes straight with crooked lines. Advent is an eternal season as we look and search and desire God with everything we are.
The Israelites were longing and waiting for this wild, free God to break into history and to transform Israel's fortunes. All of the characters in the Advent liturgy – Isaiah, John the Baptist, even Anna and Simeon – were waiting for God to come. Their desire for God was almost at fever pitch. Of course God came, unexpectedly in a little child. Those whose eyes and hearts were open, who were in touch with their desire for God, recognised God.
So how about you? This Advent will you get in touch with your deepest desire for God and will you open your heart and let this wild, free God in as you journey towards Christmas? Will you let your desire for God increase and live from now on in an eternal advent – watching, waiting, longing and desiring more of the Lord? Will you celebrate his birth in your heart however he comes and wherever he leads?