On Sunday, December 2 we celebrated the first of four Sundays of ADVENT.
I remembered from my youth that ADVENT comes every year at this time, but there were so many special days on our church calendar – why or what were we celebrating? However, I did understand that ADVENT had something to do with the birth of Jesus. I just wasn’t sure what.
Years later, I believe I have a better understanding of the purpose of ADVENT. It is intended to “set the stage” for Christmas – that day when we celebrate God’s entry into human lives with the birth of His Son Jesus.
Let’s take a closer look at ADVENT. Pastor Mark Roberts helps us. In a back issue of The Presbyterian Outlook’. he tells us that if ADVENT is taken seriously, it can sharpen aspects of our relationship with God that we sometimes neglect. “For example,” Pastor Roberts says, “in celebrating ADVENT we can feel what it must have been like for the Children of Israel in their longing for a Savior.” “We also get in touch,” he says, “with our yearning for a future in which the coming of the Lord will establish justice, wipe away every tear, and bring the fullness of God’s Peace.” So, in ADVENT worship, we are paying special attention to the experience of waiting for God, rather than just rushing on to the next religious activity..
ADVENT can also help us resist the contemporary cultural tug to secularize the Christmas season. Many of us do feel torn between the secular and religious dimensions of Christmas. ADVENT helps us to focus more intentionally on God during the weeks before Christmas. This is better preparation for celebrating Christmas than merely trying to avoid the secular attractions of the season.
Through such reflection we are reminded of just how much we need a Shepherd to watch over us, a Savior to forgive us, and a Redeemer to deliver us from our sinful state. Therefore, if we embrace ADVENT fully, it would help prepare us for a truer and more heart-felt celebration of Christmas.
In today’s strongly secular culture, pursuing these facets of ADVENT is not a simple task. It takes both focused time and frequent re-enforcement.
So, during ADVENT worship next Sunday, look for the ADVENT wreath with its four large candles, at the front of the Sanctuary. The candles symbolize our search for:
— JOY, and
Each Sunday of ADVENT, we will light one additional candle.
If we are truly focused, ADVENT can be a wonderful and current opportunity to deepen our relationship with God. This can enrich our Christmas-time worship experience, and long thereafter.
These thoughts are brought to you by CPC’s Adult Spiritual Development Team, hoping to encourage you to pursue some personal spiritual growth this winter at CPC.