The season of Advent is a time rich with restlessness, anticipation, and eventually, joy. It is a time to remember not just the birth of the Christ, but also to remember His journey as prophet and teacher destined to light our way to God.The word Advent is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus – which means coming.
It would be easy for us to fall into a trap of just focusing on the birth of Christ. For months prior to the start of this season we’ll be inundated with advertisements and stores full of decorations reminding us that the Christmas holiday is fast approaching – we’d better be ready. This encourages us to buy and to eat – indeed readying for the enjoyable details of the secular season – however, does not prepare us for an incarnation of Spirit. Thankfully, our church mothers and fathers saw fit to create for us a Christian year: A yearly cycle focused on the journey of faith.
We do not rush into Christmas. We let the anticipation build. We encourage the excitement to grow. We prepare. We get ready. We look back in time and remember again the prophetic voices of the centuries. We stand in the river with John the Baptizer and listen to what he has to say in the here and now. Like Joseph, we are surprised as the angel asks him to not fear, to trust in Mary and in God. And THEN, we become truly and deeply joyful.
Advent is a time of “already … and not yet,” a season of tension between the past and the future as we live in the present. The journey of faith is a long one. Each story of our lives represents the wonderful details of the whole. So it is with Advent.
We begin each fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, this year December 1, and mark each of the four Sundays by lighting the candles of the Advent Wreath while an appropriate text for the day is read. Advent ends with the coming of Christmas – which begins the 12 days of Christmas celebration culminating in the celebration of Epiphany – commemorating the prophetic gifts of the Magi as they recognized that this child is indeed Emmanuel – God with us and in us!