Friday, November 29, 2013

Advent

Cathedral of the Resurrection
Saint Petersburg
Jesus Christ is coming!  When we hear those words during this busy holiday season we often think of the humble birth of our Lord and Savior in a stable in Bethlehem.  We are looking forward to the celebration of His birth.  We are busy enjoying parties and shopping and feasting.  It's a bright and beautiful season full of color, music, aromas, laughter, tradition and sometimes heartache and tears.

The word Advent comes from the Latin word meaning "arrival" or "coming".  Looking back though history we see that Advent has morphed and changed over time.  Begun as early as 380 by the Fourth Canon of the Council of Saragosa, the young church established a December fast  in preparation for the feast  of Epiphany.  The focus of Advent at this time was on preparing spiritually for baptism during Epiphany and denying the body by fasting in anticipation of the coming feast.  I guess things haven't changed too much as we begin to recognize that we also need a time of preparation and quietness in our lives to prepare us for the glorious celebration of Christmas.  Pope Gregory the Great, who died in 604, established the four week season we know today and wrote prayers for each week.  During the Middle Ages an association of preparing for the second coming of Christ began.  Today in the non-liturgical church there is a revival of the tradition of Advent.  Many see Advent only as preparation for Christmas.  It's become a way to infuse Christ back into the holidays and keep our hearts focused on God during this busy season.  This is a good first step into Advent, but without taking time to remind ourselves of our need for a Savior and awaken a deep longing and desire for the second coming within our hearts, we only get half the fullness of Advent.

As I have been studying some of these verses this season, I see how a combination in my life is necessary.  I need to identify with the destitution and longing the Jews of the Old Testament had for their Messiah which coincides with my desperate need for a personal Savior.  I also must take time during a season that can become wrapped up in everything but Jesus, and refocus my heart on His glorious arrival, for without Christ we would have no Christmas.


I invite you to join me each day as I look at a different passage of scripture in preparation for Christmas.  Read it, meditate on it and enjoy the season!

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