We are almost to Advent! The season of Advent always takes me by surprise because it typically begins the Sunday right after Thanksgiving as it does this year. Early in my ministry there were many Saturday night scrambles before First Advent looking for someone to light the Advent candles because Advent had snuck up on me! (We are all set this year, in case you were feeling anxious.)
The First Sunday of Advent is the day after tomorrow. So what is Advent? The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians on Epiphany (January 6th), the celebration of God’s coming among us (incarnation) represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus. So Advent was tied to the incarnation and the “coming” of the Magi. By the 6th century, however, the church had tied the season of Advent to the anticipation of the second coming of Christ.
That might seem like an odd combination of focuses, but I think they actually provide a richness to the season… especially this year. Advent has always been a season of longing for the presence of God. We remember that the children of Israel, suffering under Roman rule in the first century, longed for God to come and save them, and God did in Jesus. In the 4th and 5th centuries new Christians in Spain and France longed to see God who had come among us as seen in the Magi’s visit to the baby king, and so they new Christians engage in a study of Christian faith in anticipation of their baptism. Later the church focused on the second coming of Christ because they longed for the world to be made right. Today we long for God’s presence in our lives and in our world. We long to be saved. We long to know God intimately. We long for the world to be made right. It is the longing together for God that is at the center of Advent.
I hope you will nurture that longing for God as we begin the season of Advent this Sunday. Be sure to join us for worship at 10:00 AM.
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