A bit much?
... without faith it is impossible to please God... Hebrews 11.6
But isn't faith a gift? And how shall we, sinners, please God, who is perfect? There exists a prevailing tendency in society to leap to conclusions - without checking the context or the intended meaning behind what is being said. This leads to much misunderstanding and falling out - often/ usually unnecessarily. The season of Advent invites us to pause, to reflect more deeply and consider our actions and reactions.
When the writer of the letter we call Hebrews penned their controversial statement, they were referring to the need to believe in God - have faith - in order to respond to his call on our lives. Unless we believe that God exists, how shall we relate to God? And, without relating to God, how shall we live by God's guidance and instruction? Yet faith is not a simple act of will. Like everything worthwhile, it is a gift.
Declaring faith to be a gift does not get us off the hook, however. Whenever we are offered a gift, we must receive it in order to possess it. How many wander through life wishing they had faith, while ignoring the desire of God to lavish that gift upon the very one who is seeking? Advent reminds us that God came amongst us - not so that God should become like us but so that we should become like God.
Recognising Advent and Christmas for what they are - God's penetration into history - ushers us into an encounter with the facts, their reality and what that means for us, personally. It is a step into faith...