Perhaps you can sense it. Maybe even smell it. The scent of change is in the air. Something is different.

Some would say it’s just Christmas. Shops are beautifully decorated with Christmas sparkle. Carols and festive songs are being played and sung in schools and churches and pubs and homes. Presents are being bought for friends and family. Donations given to buskers and charities. There seems to be a good dose of Christmas goodwill and cheer around this year. That’s what it is, some would say – the Christmas spirit.

But I reckon there’s more going on. It’s more than people just being nice for Christmas. There’s something deeper and more profound than that happening which, like at the first Advent, may be pointing to something new coming to birth.

Think about all the characters in the first Advent: Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, wise men, Simeon and Anna. None of them were the same afterwards. For them, Advent and the coming of Jesus was a period of great change. Caught up in the purposes of God, their lives took on new meaning and purpose. Because they were playing their part in something important. Something big. That means that there should always be a sense of something new coming every Advent, because the coming of Jesus always brings change.

But in addition to this I sense something different this year. Something fresh developing. Like the whiff of freshly brewed coffee as you walk slowly down a street. When you catch that scent in the air it often causes you to slow down and savour the aroma. And – if you have the time and maybe a little sense of adventure – you follow you nose and see where you’re led…

Something of that, I believe, is happening in York and maybe the North of England. There’s a fresh aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15) in the atmosphere. Why do I say that? Because we’re beginning to see an increasing openness to the Lord in York, as the Spirit of God woos people towards God’s kingdom. We’ve been seeing a greater expectation of God speaking prophetically into lives. We’re seeing and hearing of more healings. I’m hearing of more dreams and visions. I know of some amazing stories of miraculous financial provision in recent weeks. The Spirit of Jesus is stirring something.

So I suspect there’s a new season ahead. A change. A good change. For many it will be a new chapter in their lives. For others it’ll feel like a brand new start.

Change is in the air. I can sense the aroma. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee!

Do you see evidence of an openness and fresh awareness of God in our culture? Have you noticed that in friends, family, neighbours and colleagues?