“Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low, the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” Isaiah 40:4
Advent, what is that?
You are not alone if you have friends, co-workers, neighbors who ask that question. This church season, the first of the yearly calendar, is different.
With the world in a flurry of Christmas color and consumerism, Advent is truly counter-cultural. For Advent is a time when collectively, as the body of Christ, in worship and daily life we attempt to slow down. In a manner like Lent, we wait together. We keep watch together for an event that will change all of our lives.
The word “advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “appearing” or “coming,” referring to the appearing of a great king or even a god. In Christian usage, it refers to the appearing of Jesus Christ in two ways – His first appearing as the Child born and His second appearing in glory on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead. Thus, Advent is not only about getting ready for Christmas; it is also about getting ready for Jesus’s final appearing in glory on the Last Day.
With the tone of Advent being joyful anticipation, we live our days in a mixture of holy fear and expectant joy. The four weeks of Advent help us to acknowledge that we do not hide from the realities of darkness. We hold on together, helping one another to return again and again, clinging to the truth that Jesus the Christ was, is, and will be our Light. With each passing week, with the lighting of blue candles on an evergreen wreath, as we immerse ourselves in scripture and prayer, we affirm this truth and hope. For the One who once came in humility by way of Bethlehem’s manger, David’s donkey, and Calvary’s cross, continues to come to us each and every day.
So let us again enter and join the Advent song. Let us mark time, in and through the Word and the good works made known. Let’s do as the hymn writer of old penned. “People, look east. The time is near of the crowning of the year. Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table. People look east, and sing today – Love, the Guest, is on the way.” –People Look East, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 248.
Blessed Advent, Christmas Joy!