An Advent Word of Peace
Plan, Promise, and Preparation
Advent in my childhood was almost as austere as Lent: no flowers in church, no decorations nor Christmas tree in the house until Christmas Eve! Then, suddenly Christmas Day arrived, and all that had been saved up in loving preparation was finally revealed and celebrated, with such wonder and joy!
There is value in giving ourselves space during Advent to reflect on what led up to the Son of God’s arrival on that first Christmas night. Out of God’s indescribable love for the world he had created, He had a plan – that He would send His Son to live as one of us, and restore the relationship between human beings and God, and between each other.
Every potential project that CHIPS is asked to consider has to fall within our strategic plan, and much prayer and discussion ensues before a response is given.
God made direct relationships with people like Abraham and Moses, in preparation, and then with the prophets from Isaiah to Malachi, through whom He made known his promise of a Saviour.
The people God calls to CHIPS visit those who have asked for help, forming relationships, evaluating motivations, building up trust, before our final promise to go and live incarnationally – as one of them.
We can hardly imagine the preparation of the Son of God to become Baby Jesus, making the same nine months’ transition – so physically restricted: in Mary’s womb, in His dependence on others, unable to speak and only able to be in one place at once; but we are told “He laid aside His glory,” “made himself nothing” compared with his heavenly existence (Philippians 2: 7,8). Meanwhile, Mary and Joseph were making preparations to receive their holy Child into their family.
Personal preparation is vital for every CHIPS team member before entering a new situation: understanding God’s motivation of love and praying for God’s love to be our sole motivation; a willingness to lay aside preconceptions and prejudices; to be taught by the hosts, including language learning; and to welcome a new way of being in a different culture, usually living with a family until a team is formed. Indeed, CHIPS find itself at this very point right now, with the possibility of a new project ahead and the need for prayer as we consider it.
Let our Christmas preparations this Advent include space for reflection on these things, as well as remembering those whose lives are limited and communication curtailed by transition, forced or voluntary, to a different culture.
Elfrida Calvocoressi, Chair of Trustees