Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent.
For heathen and mainline subscribers, Advent comes from the Latin verb advenio ("to come") and refers to the coming of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
The season recalls the enfleshment of God in Jesus as the Babe of Bethlehem, reminds us of God's continuing presence or coming into our lives as Holy Spirit, and looks forward to God's coming again in Jesus to usher in the eternal Kingdom.
It's our season of preparation; recalling John the Baptist's exhortation, "Prepare the way of the Lord!"
Because the season inspires self-examination and repentance, the liturgical - again, for heathens and mainliners, liturgical is a fancy word for church stuff; especially in worship services - color is purple or violet which is associated with penitence as well as royalty for the coming of King Jesus.
One of my favorite Advent traditions is the Advent wreath. It is round to symbolize God's eternity and often evergreen for His everlasting mercy. The candles represent Jesus as the Light of the world. Although the practice varies as much as mainline churches vary in their Christological integrity, churches, uh, normally, use three purple candles (symbolizing penitence, royalty, shepherds, angels, and magi or wise guys), one rose candle (see Isaiah 35), and one really, really, really big white candle to proclaim Jesus as the Light of the world.
It starts after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Day; and Hallmark has nifty little datebooks if you need some help on scheduling. They're especially helpful to mainliners obsessed with their Scottish heritage: free.
We observe it every year because we have a habit, especially in mainline denominations, of forgetting it's/we're all about Jesus.
Two Advent meditations have caught my attention.
The first is from a candidate for ordination in the PCUSA who's enrolled in a Presbyterian seminary and actually believes in Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture; and if you'd like to be on his mailing list, drop me a line and I'll connect you to him:
This is the season...People are mobbing stores...There is so much
noise...The liturgy of the season: cashier...The receipt pops up
and the cashier hands it to the shopper with the words, "Have
a happy holiday."
The transaction (liturgy) completes...their shopping...Then the
hunt goes on for other bargains at other stores; until the final
liturgy is complete and the exhausted shopper goes home
and wraps all the goodies...
This is what we have let Christmas become. It began in
secrecy with an angel's quiet announcement to Mary and
confirmation to her betrothed Joseph and ended in a stable
witnessed only by farm animals and eventually shepherds and
angels. God in the form of a tiny baby had slipped into the
world virtually unnoticed by the crowds. The rulers of Israel...had
no idea that there was a tiny boy...who would one day turn their
world upside down.
Has Jesus really turned our world upside down?...We go on
buying and selling...eating and drinking. We go along with the
culture that has stolen from Jesus the preeminence of His
birthday. We have let Madison Avenue...steal our Christmas.
Maybe we should take a lesson from the Grinch who tried to
steal Christmas; only to find that the Christ child comes into
every heart that is prepared to receive Him.
Jesus comes quietly wherever He finds souls open to His
presence. May our hearts be so prepared.
The second is from a good friend who runs www.churchandworld.com which is the best independent source of reporting news from all theological/ideological sides that impact ministry (available in "Viewpoint" of the 11/23/10 edition of www.churchandworld.com):
The supremacy of Jesus Christ was and still is rejected by
Judaism...upset when people say they wish for them to
accept Jesus as their Messiah, their Savior and Lord...
The supremacy of Jesus Christ is rejected by the Muslim
faith...Jesus is highly revered and praised in the Koran
as a great prophet, but He is not the Creator of everything...not
God in human flesh...did not die to save mankind...
Buddhism can do without the Lord Jesus Christ...even do
without God the Creator...
Many people in the Western world have no place for the belief
that Jesus has the supremacy of everything. They have no
place for such a Jesus, or for people who believe that. This
is even true for many people in the churches. Their faith
is not about Jesus, but more about a political ideology
of equality, of redistribution of wealth, of lobbying for an
ideal society, which they believe is attainable by political
It should not keep us from loving all of them, and from
praying that God in His grace will grant them to see who
Jesus really is, and to embrace Him as their Lord and
Savior. We rejoice with the angels in heaven over such
people who are coming to Christ in our day! Some do!
Jesus is the Name above all names...Jesus Christ is
Lord. He is superior to all. That is our message. The
followers of Christ are and will be hated for that by
many...People will accuse us of thinking that we are
superior to them. But we are not...Our message is
not about us and how great we are. There is no place
for superiority feelings in Christians! Our message is
about Christ, the Lord. We are not superior. Christ is!
As Christians, we should follow Christ's example of
humility and service, which is the sign of real greatness
in the Kingdom of God, and serve all people in the
Spirit of Christ. At all cost! Yes, at all cost.
Just as Jesus did.
Amen and amen!
God knows I like everything that contributes to the celebration of the season.
I like everything; especially popcorn balls, cookies with sprinkles, more turkey and cranberry relish, the late service on Christmas Eve, getting gift cards to Starbucks and Woodstock HD, and mistletoe.
But as my brothers remind us, the reason for the season is Jesus.
Yeah, that sounds syrupy to some folks; but it's/He's the truth.
Read John 3:16-17.
The left needs to spend more time on John 3:16.
The right needs to spend more time on John 3:17.
To paraphrase a popular aphorism, "There are three sides to every story: the left's side, the right's side, and the truth."
And if the left and right would stop eisegeting Jesus to conform Him to their false images, a really merry Christmas and holy holiday would overcome the increasingly shallow/hollow one.
Let me put it another way.
Christmas is supposed to be just about Jesus.
The Church is supposed to be just about Jesus.
Until we return all seasons to Him, we'll be as pathetically plastic as artificial trees advertising authentic Christmas spirit.
Blessings and Love!
Post a Comment