Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Advent!

Advent Wreath
Growing up in a Pentecostal pastor's home in Tampa, FL never exposed me to the season of Advent.  Yes, we celebrated Christmas with decorations, carols and church plays.  I can remember mama placing three wise men in the living room window seal.  Each was made of a used beer bottle, clothed in colorful, flannel cloth with an ornament glued to the opening for his head.  They were a gift from a neighbor, as mama would have no use for any beer bottles, ever.  Actually, mama said she went out and found those bottles, so I stand corrected!

Our tree was wrapped with the larger lightbulbs of red, green, yellow, blue and so on that were popular in the 70's.  Each bulb glowed like a piece of back-lit candy.  As a toddler, I'm surprised I never tried to taste one.  Although, I did touch one or two over the years.  These memories are now mainly found in faded, yellowish pictures at my parent's house.

Little did I know that those weeks of Decembers I was longing to open presents, learning parts for plays and lyrics for songs, I was actually wandering (as I wondered) through a time that had been designated sacred for some 1,500 years:  Advent.  From the Latin, adventus, "coming," Advent has a two-fold meaning to millions of Christians worldwide.  First it celebrates the initial arrival of Jesus about 2,000 years ago.
Now He lays his Glory by,
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Secondly, as we think about the first time Jesus came to earth, we keep before us his future coming in power and glory, to make all right with the world.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make his blessings flow,
Far as the curse is found.
As I grew older I was exposed to a bigger picture of the faith.  I learned the beauty of such works as the Book of Common Prayer.  I discovered that even one of our Pentecostal Hymnbooks contained responsive readings.  Most churches in our denomination passed these up for a more spontaneous worship style.  And I learned about Advent.  Advent starts pointing forward to Christmas, to the coming of the Christ of Christmas, as early as around December 30th.  This refocuses our anticipation away from commercial Christmas, and back on the Baby who would grow up and save us all!

I encourage you participate in this Advent season.  Find some of your favorite Christmas carols during these next three weeks.  Sit down with the words.  Read them and think about what they mean theologically, and to your heart.  And then celebrate the coming of the once before and soon returning Savior!

(Photo by Wikimedia user: SolLuna under the Creative Commons 3.0 license.)

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