Sunday, December 16, 2012
What is Advent?
by Spencer Cummins
Advent is the four Sundays prior to Christmas ending on Christmas Eve. During this time we look forward to the birth of Jesus and his coming to the world. Alongside this truth, Advent in particular is a remembrance of the longing the Jews had for the hope of the Messiah. The Christian church celebrates this season by the lighting of four candles on the Advent wreath. The lighting of the first candle symbolizes expectation, the second symbolizes hope, the third joy and the fourth purity.
The Christ candle, often white, is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reminding Chris-tians that Jesus is the light of the world. The white candle represents Christ and reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world. This light dispels darkness, death, decay and illness. We are reminded here that God enters into the messiness of life through the send-ing of his Son into the world, the true light of the world.
Yet, the lighting of the candles, the singing of Christmas hymns and songs, and the preaching on the coming of Jesus would not have any impact if we didn’t know the story. The story I’m talking about is the story of the God of Israel and his love for his world, including his chosen ones, the people of God. In creation, he fashioned humanity in his image. Through the fall, he held out the promise of healing and hope. Through the law and the prophets, we see his grace in the giving of the law and of providing a succession of kings. Yet, throughout all Israel’s failures and idols, the God of Israel tenaciously commits himself to be the God of the living, never leaving Israel’s side, yet calling them to justice, righteousness and peace.
This same God is the one who sent his only Son into the world, to proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives and restore sight to the blind (Luke 4:18). The Son, the coming Messiah is the one who holds the shalom which the world longs for in his hand, in his arrival, in his bloody death, and in his resurrection. In this Advent season, let us not forget the longing of our hearts from the coming Messiah has come in our midst, and the justice and peace he identifies with should reign over all of our lives as well. Rather than seeing the rituals and practices of Advent as hollow acts, may we see them as pictures of a great story, a story with God as the author and we as his people.
We hope you enjoy this Advent season and the worship of our King, Jesus Christ.