Advent

It’s a peculiar season that’s kind of hard to understand. Some people put up Christmas trees and decorations before Thanksgiving but most wait until after. The shopping day, Black Friday, seems to be the official signal that Christmas is on. All things Christmas are now allowable and let the shopping begin. But the church calendar has another little season sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s called Advent.
And it’s just that; a season between. A waiting period. A time to perfect waiting. A time to prepare for. A time to stop and ponder. A time to meditate. It’s like Lent preceding Easter. A time to consider the sacrifices of Jesus before we celebrate his resurrection.
Advent is observed for the four Sundays preceding Christmas. In addition to preaching and teaching, an Advent wreath is in full view of congregants and one of the four candles is lit each week with a scriptural reading to illuminate the themes; hope, peace, joy and love. A white candle is in the middle and represents Christ and all he brings to the world.
Advent is a time to consider the entire life of Christ before we celebrate his earthly birth. A time even to center on his second coming – he lived; he ministered; he died; he was raised from the dead; he’s coming again.
He’s coming again for a church without spot or blemish. He’s coming again to reclaim the faithful with whom he’s been in fellowship and for whom he’s been in intercession. He’s coming again and for those who have accepted his lordship in their lives, this is good news. And for those who have not, it’s a reminder that his is a welcome invitation that is always extended; every minute of every day. With no need for formality. With no need for a celebrant. With the only need being a heart that says yes.
And then it’s Christmas every day because Jesus Christ is born anew in our hearts and souls every day. And then it’s time to celebrate the coming of one who brings with him the shalom of God – justice and holy access for whosoever will. Are there ways we can open our hearts even more to receive the fullness of God’s love and grace? Are there ways we can be more available as vessels of transport of that love and grace to everyone we encounter? Are there ways we can surrender ourselves to be the vessels of honor that bring glory to God while blessing the people of God?
These and more are our Advent considerations as we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas with all the joy our hearts can hold and to bless the world with all that can’t be contained.
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