Thoughts on the Advent Season
In recent years there has been a re-emphasis of a sacred tradition on a much broader scale than families lighting candles at the beginning of church services during the Christmas season. This emphasis is on individuals and families, once again, observing the Advent season. The term "advent" comes from the Latin adventus referring to the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. Certainly the four Sundays before Christmas traditionally referred to as the "Advent Season" (beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ending Christmas Eve) center around the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy when he wrote:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
This verse speaks to the humanity, “a child is born”, and the deity, “a son is given”, of Jesus beautifully articulating and prophesying the incarnation. The apostle Paul, with a retrospective view, observes in Galatians 4:4-5:
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons."
The entire point of the Advent season, as I have come to understand it, is for anticipating with a hope and joy that cannot be discouraged; discovering the richness and eternal meaning of what happened when the fullness of time had come; and preparing one’s heart and mind for the celebration of Christ’s birth. This can be accomplished through a vast array of traditions and methods, but the healthiest traditions help one experience Scripture, and thus experience the Christ-child for whom Christmas is purposed. I believe the manners in which we anticipate, hope, prepare and celebrate can at times be fun and light-hearted while at other times more somber and reverent. The Advent season need not be uniform for each family and traditions can change from year to year. The beautiful thing about traditions is that they all begin in someone’s imagination. Feel free to use your imagination to create ways to observe Advent season or even adopt other's traditions as your own. In any case, if you have not already begun observing the Advent season, which began this past Sunday, then start today!