Anticipating the Christ
For Christians, Advent is a time spent preparing for Christmas. For many of us, this can include decorating our homes, putting up a Christmas tree, creating an Advent calendar, writing Christmas cards, gathering with family and friends for dinner, and giving gifts.
The word Advent finds its origin in Old English from the Latin word “adventus,” or “coming”—the arrival of God in human form, umbilical cord and all.
While some are tempted to think of Christmas as an event to be observed at the end of the calendar year, they would miss the origin and meaning of Advent.
We don’t know when the period of preparation for Christmas now called Advent began. It was certainly in existence from about 480 with the Council of Tours in 567. What we know and celebrate is a time of preparation for Christmas Day when we celebrate the birth or beginning of the Christian liturgical year.
Advent anticipates the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives:
- The physical Nativity in Bethlehem
- The reception of Christ in the heart of the believer
- The eschatological second coming
This third meaning, I believe, was the focus of the early church—to wait for Christ’s second coming. This, however, has become downplayed among today’s Christians.
What if our focus was to shift to waiting, anticipating, preparing for the King’s return to earth, the defeat of Satan and sin, and peace on earth? Now that would be something to anticipate and to celebrate.
So this Advent season, as you decorate for Christmas, sing the carols, and light the advent wreath, try to anticipate—look forward to Christ’s return and with it peace on earth. What if we wished each other a “Blessed Advent” as a prelude to “Merry Christmas?”
In doing so we can simultaneously give and receive the love of God to each other—as we anticipate and draw near his birth.
I wish you a holy and blessed Advent and a joyous Christmas,
Debora Ragland Buerk
The Write Stuff
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