Advent: Waiting For The Coming Of Christ
Advent (from the Latin adventus meaning “coming”) is a liturgical season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ at Christmas. Advent marks the beginning of the Western liturgical year and begins on Advent Sunday, the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, Dec. 25. For Christians, the season of Advent serves as a reminder both of the original waiting by Israelites for the birth of the Messiah, and the waiting by Christians for the return of Christ. The most famous hymn of Advent is “O Come Emmanuel.” Its lyrics, based on the Prophet Isaiah, articulate the hopeful anticipation of the Advent season:
Advent is a special time of year for me as the emphasis of the season of Advent is one of expectation and anticipation for the coming Messiah. It is this time of year that we take time to wait, listen and discover once again what Christmas really mean. It is time where the songs we sing and scriptures we read often express a longing for God. Whether it is singing “Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel” or hearing the words of Isaiah saying to “prepare the way” we are invited to join in that longing.
Humans define God, tie God down, and limit God to a few ways of showing up on our lives. Still, after millennia of recorded thought, God remains elusive. The authors of our Scriptures speak beautifully about our human desire as we search for a God we can really know. This is what Advent is about—Emanuel, God with us. Still, there are those who believe God is elusive, but from time to time I have experienced moments when God seems to break through that elusiveness. It is a fleeting moment but it is a powerful experience. Sometimes it’s in those quiet contemplative moments. In other times it’s in the singing of a song that I feel as if God is within reach. It is then that I feel that I am a part of something much bigger than myself. It is both a comforting and daunting experience. In those moments I feel as if I’m wrapped in the love of God, but I also feel the great responsibility it means to be connected to the entire universe through God. For that moment I feel I am truly present to the possibilities the world has to offer.
So at Advent time I feel connected with Isaiah’s hope proclaiming comfort to the Israelite exiles. I experience hope as John the Baptist as he points forward to something new that’s coming, even as he doesn’t know exactly what that will be. I take comfort in the courage of Mary and Joseph in their willingness to listen to their visions and dreams, in hopes that by doing so the world might be a better place. I long to hear the angels say “Do not be afraid,” proclaiming that hope has once again entered the world.
The Peace Of Christ Be With You!
~ Pastor Stephan