A Time Called…ADVENT
When children say, “I can’t wait for Christmas,” they convey what it means to live in Advent. With joy they are waiting for an event that is good, that has been promised, and is now hidden from sight. Children do manage to wait. One way they do this is by sharing in the many preparations for Christmas. Waiting and preparing are the themes of Advent for adults as well. But when did Advent begin? And what can it mean in your life?
Historical Roots of Advent
The calendar year may begin on January 1, but for Christians the Christian year begins with Advent – four weeks before Christmas. Advent is the beginning of a cycle of time that celebrates the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The church has observed an Advent season for over 15 centuries. It may originally have been a time of instruction for people who were preparing to be baptized on January 6, on Epiphany. History reveals Advent traditions of varying lengths, but our waiting time is now the four Sundays before Christmas.
Finding Meaning in the Tradition
Advent is the time when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We recall those who waited and prepared for a promised Christ child: the prophet Isaiah, Mary, his mother, and John the Baptist. We also think about God’s promises that are yet to be revealed under the reign of Christ, in “the age to come” or “the day of the Lord.” Advent is oriented in both the past and the future. As we get ready for the birth of Jesus and for the promise that Christ will come again, we use gifts of spiritual preparation: worship, prayer, singing, Bible study, fellowship (Christmas parties!), and service to others.
Questions for Personal Meditation
- What am I waiting for?
- Who am I waiting for?
- How am I preparing?
- What gives me joy in this season? What might I discover from that?
(Source: The Presbyterian Church in Canada 2007 – used with permission)