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What is Advent?

Posted by thethousandmarch on November 29, 2010 at 8:37 PM

     This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent. Jessi and I, with our church, are doing our best to observe Advent this year. For the most part this is new for us. One church we attended in Portland, Evergreen Community, did some things for Advent – we had the candle lighting and some prayers – but I guess I wasn't paying much attention. I didn't learn much about what Advent was, other than a preparation for Christmas.

     This year Jessi and I are leading the whole thing so we needed to really look into it. Throughout the year we follow a common lectionary for our scripture readings and sermons. When I looked at the scripture readings for this past Sunday I was a little disappointed. The readings (Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44) focused upon the return of Jesus; the establishment of his Kingdom, the final judgment, the redemption of the world, and our need to prepare for his return which could come at any moment. I was expecting some Christmas readings. I was tempted to change my sermon text to something from the Christmas story. Then I did some research. It turns out Advent is as much about preparing for Christ's return as it is about remembering his birth.

     This brings a whole new perspective to the Christmas season instead of just trying to remember to “keep Christ in Christmas”, not lose sight of the “reason for the season” and so on. Instead of just trying really hard to remember that the reason why I'm giving and getting presents, eating lots of food, cutting down a tree, bringing it into my house and putting stuff on it, is because we're celebrating Jesus' birth, I can use it as a time to meditate upon the return of Christ. It's a lot easier for me to think about how I should prepare myself for Jesus' second coming, then trying to feel sufficiently excited about Jesus' birth in contrast to feeling excited about getting some cool swag. One allows me to actually take time to asses my actions and attitudes, the other leads to trying to control my emotions and getting upset about who is, or is not, properly celebrating Jesus' birth. And, when it comes to trying to affect my emotions I can get really excited about thinking about the peace, justice, and love Jesus will bring when he returns and redeems this world.

Categories: The Kingdom of God, Advent