The Advent Collective is a new daily reflection drawing from Bible passages that are commonly read in this season of Advent. Our hope is that it will help us to grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.
Welcome to the Advent Collective Day 1
Our Bible passage today is Genesis Chapter 1 vs26-31 and Chapter 2 verse 15.
We’re currently watching Season 4 of ‘The Crown’ on Netflix. We only have a month long subscription, so are binge watching 10 episodes in 4 weeks……this is therefore a spoiler alert!
In episode 7, Princess Margaret is struggling with her mental health and feels rejected and unwanted. Princess Diana – who is younger, prettier and more popular – is now on the scene and getting all the attention. And then, as Prince Edward turns 21, Margaret is demoted from her position as Counsellor of State and is no longer entitled to deputise for the monarch.
She pleads with the Queen: “Don’t take that away from me – it’s all I’ve got. I asked you for just one thing – to give me work, a purpose, dignity!”
A friend encourages Margaret to explore Christianity, in order to find the happiness she longs for. In a fairly angry response, the princess shouts, “The title, my seniority, the proximity to the crown, is my happiness, it’s who I am……I am the Queen’s sister, daughter to a King Emperor, and I will always be in the centre!”
It is clear that everything about Margaret’s identity and purpose is being shaken to the core.
But it’s not just princesses who struggle with the big questions of life – ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What am I meant to be doing?’
And so, at the start of Advent, we are going to go right back to the start of the story; and remind ourselves of what God says about our identity and purpose.
In Genesis Chapter 1 we read these words:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness……So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them…..And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
Right at the beginning of the story, in the first chapters, on the first pages, we find out who we really are, our true identity is revealed.
We are God’s very good creation, we are made in his own image, and we bear the likeness of our Heavenly Father.
This is an absolutely amazing identity to have – to be created in the image of the King of Heaven!
However, do we believe that this is actually true? Is this the identity that we live in?
I am in no way suggesting that we develop the same arrogance that Princess Margaret displayed, but her words made me question the attitudes and beliefs of my own heart and mind.
Do I declare with such certainty and conviction that my identity is as a daughter of the King? Or do I listen to other voices that would seek to tell me I am less than that?
Is my self-worth anchored in the fact that I am made in the image of God, that I am his very good creation? Or does my heart think that if I was younger, prettier, slimmer, or more popular, then things would all just be a bit better?
Does my proximity and closeness to my Heavenly Father bring me the happiness we all long for, or do I look for this somewhere else?
And then we come to the second question: ‘What am I meant to be doing?’
Whether it is through furlough, redundancy, working from home, new workplace procedures, or being forced to close in lockdown – so many of us have found that our work has altered radically in 2020. We knew what we were meant to be doing, and how to do it well, but all that has gone.
And yet throughout this uncertainty, God’s purpose for our lives has remained unchanged.
In today’s passage, God says to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,” and then God takes them and places them in the Garden of Eden “to work it and keep it.”
We are not all gardeners, but wherever God puts us, we are called to be fruitful in that place. Wherever God has sent us, we are called to be a blessing. This is our true purpose. Do we live it out?
Do we look for opportunities to bless others in the places where God has sent us and placed us?
Maybe fears and worries about work are consuming our minds, and preventing us from being fruitful?
Perhaps our job, our position, or the busyness of our diaries, is the thing that gives us our sense of purpose, rather than the one who created us?
The outworking of God’s purpose will be different for each one of us; but being fruitful and blessing others is what we are all called to do.
Advent is a season of preparation, a time to get ready.
As we begin this season, take a few moments now, in the silence, and ask the Holy Spirit to begin the process of preparing your heart and mind. Ask Jesus to speak a fresh word into your life, that would help you to get ready to live in and live out your God given purpose and identity in the year ahead. Because right from the very start of the story, this was always God’s plan for you.