Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Advent is Coming (Part 1)

Advent is Coming... We are just two Sundays away from the season of Advent. Advent is more than just a pre-Christmas season, it is a season of preparation as we ready ourselves for worship during Christmas (the 1st Coming of Christ) and as ready ourselves for Jesus Return, the Second Coming of Christ.  The word "Advent" means "coming" or "arrival," and it is a season where were prepare to celebrate the first advent of Jesus by anticipating his second advent.

The tone of Advent in Church is different than what you'll see out in the world this time of year.  On Sundays during Advent, you'll notice the liturgical color (seen in the stoles of the clergy) will be purple.  Purple, here, is a sign of penitence.  The observation of Advent, as a preparatory and even penitential season, is an old Christian practice.  It may go back as far as the 4th century A.D., but it first appears in the liturgy of the Church in the 8th century.  It is an old Christian practice to have an extended time to reflect on our sinfulness and the rather dark reason behind both of the Lord's advents:  that Jesus comes to us in order to deal with sin.

As we navigate 21st century America during this time of year, we may be tempted to ask: "Do we really need this darker kind of Advent?"  One only has to look at the commercialization of Christmas and the distracted lifestyle that most of us live this time of year to find the answer.  We really do need this kind of Advent, and we need God's Spirit to work in us during this season.  We need a reminder of deeper realities than what we typically deal with this time of year: year-end bonuses, breaks from school, endless parties, family visits, and Santa.  There are tons of people out there who rant about putting the "Christ" back in "Christmas," but the way to recover Christmas is to rediscover Advent.  

In the next post on Advent, I'll discuss a few ways we can observe Advent in our lives during the week and on Sundays in worship.

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