Well, it’s that time of the year when the church calendar starts over! December 1st is the first Sunday of Advent this year. You may be wondering just what Advent is all about, so I will give a quick explanation!
Advent is the first season of the liturgical year for Christians who follow the church calendar. The word advent come from the Latin word adventuswhich means “coming.” So we call this church season Advent because we are preparing for Jesus’ coming in the flesh at Christmas (not just a day, but an entire season for the church!), which is also called the Feast of the Nativity. The neat thing about this season is that it also reminds us that Jesus is coming back one day to consummate his kingdom here on earth and reveal his glory to all the world. This is one reason why the church calendar celebrates Christ the King Sunday as the final Sunday of the church year, which was last week at the time of this post.
So, Advent serves a double purpose:
- A preparation for Christ’s second coming. This is recognized by the readings from the first two Sundays of Advent focusing on Jesus’ teaching about this second coming.
- A preparation to celebrate his birth. This is seen in the readings for the third and fourth Sundays that point to some of the prophecies of that first coming as well as Gospel readings that tell the story of things that were happening just before Jesus was born all those years ago.
So, what is our posture for learning and putting these truths into practice for ourselves? One way that we do this is asking ourselves, why did Jesus need to come in the first place? Well, we are all sinners in need of redemption from our sin. And that very sin has infected all of the world, not just people. The whole creation groans under the burden of the curse because of our sin. Thus, Jesus’ coming was for all of creation’s redemption, which includes our own redemption. Through Jesus, everything is put to rights, as N.T. Wright likes to put it. This is very important for us to think about this season.
What does this lead to then? It leads to a time of reflection in our own individual lives about our need for Jesus. I need Jesus continually because I myself am a sinner who is in the wrong with God the Father because of the sin that dwells in me and my own actions. Part of my practice for this season is to remember this and seek God’s mercy remembering that it is in Jesus himself for me! There is a sense of sorrow in this season for my own sin and that leads to a sense of repentance and seeking God to renew our hearts through His Holy Spirit that He has given to us. This is a starting place for us and I will have more to say later.
Come Lord Jesus, come!