In the hustle and bustle of getting ready for December 25th and all that happens between now and then, we forget that there is more to Christmas than its Eve and Day.
And that is the season of Advent which begins this Sunday. The name is derived from the Latin word "adventus" meaning "coming". The Roman Church initiated this originally Gallican custom around the 6th century. So Advent has been around for a while, say 1,400 years. It is largely lost in today's secular world.
And it is a sad loss.
The widely more familiar Lenten season prepares us for the withdrawal of the adult Christ Child from the earth in human form by his passion, death and resurrection. Advent, on the other hand, not only seeks to prepare us for his human manifestation in the humility of the manger but also in his splendid and glorious Second Coming. This dichotomy is as beautiful as it is profound.
Consider, however, that Advent goes even further. It prepares us for sustenance in that interim between the humility and the splendor. Advent considers Christ's present coming, the here and now, revealed by his very presence in the midst of the Church Universal.
Advent, then, is an event that brings about the coming of Christ yesterday, today and tomorrow for the sake of our souls and our salvation. Advent brings the miracle of Christ's earthly manifestation into our hearts. It reveals the human child that is born of the flesh as the Son that is given making our heavenly inheritance available to us. It is as prophesied by the Psalmist: "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and truth have kissed each other."
How beautiful and powerful and yet how lost!
Charles Dickens captured this theme, perhaps unwittingly, in his "A Christmas Carol" with Christmas past, present and future. In concluding that Christmas is a condition of the heart, that what matters is within and not without, he reminds us of that universal truth.
Hold the promise made, the promise revealed and the promise to come close in your heart and you will have a very merry Christmastide for yourself and your loved ones, whether you are with them or not, regardless of your ambience.
So over the next three or so weeks, let us all consider the Advent Season and make straight in our own spiritual deserts a highway, for our God.
©2013 Gary M. Wisenbaker
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