This Advent Season, join with hundreds of other Christians across Australia as we pause and reflect on the meaning of Christmas. Each day through December we'll email you a different reflection from various different Christian teachers, as we share together on what it means to be present this Christmas.

What is advent and why does it matter?

Taken from the Latin word adventus which literally means “coming,” Advent is a season where Christians symbolically await Jesus’s birth - a focused time of waiting and expectation, that creates space for us to anticipate and receive again the announcement of Jesus’ birth - ‘God with us’.

This year, to mark Advent in the contemporary context, and to help all of us navigate the challenge of being present during this Christmas season,  we are preparing daily devotional emails for our Common Grace community.  These email devotionals are designed specifically to help us make space to pause each day in anticipation of the breaking in of God’s Kingdom, and to really wrestle with the challenge of being present. And, as usual, they will feature the wisdom and teaching of a diverse range of contributors from right across the breadth of the Christian church in our nation.

Our prayer is that this Advent devotional will invite Australian Christians to be present in observing and remembering all that God has done in Jesus, so that our faith is nurtured, our love is stimulated and our hope is energised.

Most of us long to be present in the moment at Christmas time. We want to be able to think deeply about the meaning of Christmas. We want to be able to pull back a bit from the craziness of attending parties and buying gifts and gathering with loved ones and take time for gratitude. We want to find enough head-space and heart-space to include those who find Christmas lonely and difficult at our tables and in our budgets.

And if we’re honest, we all know that there’s been years when the money, preparations or general busyness of Christmas has caused us stress that has stolen our peace and joy. We don’t want to let another Christmas be lost like that. But how do we really be present when there’s just so much of everything happening.

Of course, being present is central to the message of Christmas, for it is a season when we celebrate a God who made himself present in humanity. Who took on the fragility of newborn human flesh as God incarnate and became Emmanuel – God is with us. How ironic it is, then, that we find being present such a difficult achievement at Christmas – of all times!

Throughout December we'll be producing daily reflections and devotionals on what it means to be present during this Season. We've invited a diverse and inclusive range of Christians to share with us their heart, celebrating the diversity of the Church while uniting with a common purpose to inspire Christians to live our their faith graciously and generous in our society.

Some of our contributors include:

Scott Sanders CEO, Common Grace
Sister Elizabeth Delaney General Secretary of the National Council of Churches
Tim Costello World Vision Australia
Brooke Prentis Waka Waka Woman and Aboriginal Spokesperson for Common Grace
Michael Gore CEO, Open Doors Australia
Jane Kennedy Associate Director, Programs - Asia and Africa, UnitingWorld
Cassandra Langton Global Creative Director, Hillsong Church
Jarrod McKenna Teaching Pastor at Westcity Church and Co-Founder of First Home Project
Kristyn Crossfield Director ACTU Leadership Programs and Common Grace Board Member
Erin Sessions Lecturer, Morling College
Joel Houston Worship Leader, Hillsong UNITED and Lead Pastor at Hillsong NYC
Rachel Neary Community Development and Training at Alice Springs Women's Shelter
Shane Fenwick Case worker at Mission Australia
Bella Beach Student at Pacific Hills Christian School
Julie McCrossin Radio broadcaster, TV presenter and freelance journalist
Mick Pope Ecotheologian with Ethos
Jacob Sarkodee Anglican Overseas Aid
Safina Stewart Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman, educator and artist
Tamie Davis Missionary in Tanzania with CMS Australia
Father Shenouda Mansour General Secretary of NSW Ecumenical Council and Priest in the Coptic Orthodox Church
River Bennett & Bel Pangburn Founders & Birth Photographers at The First Hello Project