Advent begins today. It is a time that most of our culture has completely forgotten in their headlong rush to consume and commercialize the premature celebration of Christmas. There are many Churches looking back to the practice of the ancient Church, where the year for the Church begins today, the Sunday four weeks before Christmas. I was fortunate enough to participate in one such gathering last night, and it was beautiful. I think that many people hunger for the rhythm that following Christ through the seasons of His life brings us.
I like that the season of Advent starts out by looking back, to a time before the birth of Christ, to show us how the people of God learned hope in ancient times. Then the season of Advent looks forward, far beyond the birth of Christ, to the true Object of our faith, the King Who comes to conquer the darkness, restore creation, and establish His Kingdom for ever.
The Prophets of ancient Israel talked about a world very much like our own, a world of people rebelling against God and finding themselves lost in darkness again and again.
However, the prophets also show how God has a plan, not only for Israel but also for the whole world--a plan that extends beyond the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Go and listen to the hymn O come, O come Emmanuel, and remember that the coming of the baby Jesus did not complete God’s plan. The Incarnation is the Sign, which assures us that there is reason to hope.
And so, in Advent we recall the ancient prophecies and signs which led to the birth of the Messiah, and we look forward in hope, applying those same ancient texts to our lives and the world we find ourselves in. Jesus Christ will come again just as He promised, not only in clouds of Glory but in each of our lives. O come, O come, Emmanuel!
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which Your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when He shall come again in His glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through Him Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.