We are near the mid-point of the advent season. Advent is a season that not all Christians celebrate. Many people think of the “Christmas Season” as lasting from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Day. The truth, though, is that Christmas lasts from Christmas Day through Epiphany, on January 6.
No one knows for sure when advent began, but it is most certainly tied to the history of when Christmas began to be celebrated on December 25. Jesus was likely born in the spring, but with Easter being celebrated in March-April every year, it didn’t make sense to add a Christian celebration day so close Easter.
It took quite awhile for the Church to settle on December 25. There are records of Christmas on that date as early as the fourth century, but wide-spread celebration did not really take hold until the 6th-8th centuries. December 25 was chosen to counter pagan rituals like Saturnalia, a very hedonistic celebration. Additionally, the winter solstice is the darkest day of the year, and it made sense to Christians to celebrate the coming of light in Christ Jesus near that time. Advent came sometime after the date for Christ-mas was well-established.
Advent has a dual meeting. The word “advent” comes from the Latin “adventus,” which is a rendering of the Greek word Parousia, a word which denotes both the coming of Christ in the flesh at Christmas as well as his second coming when he returns to reign forever. In both cases, the coming of Christ is about hope and salvation.
I have to confess something. I have never appreciated advent all that much. Until now. I think it’s because there is still too much kid in me, and I am eager to get to Christmas. After Thanksgiving, I want to sing Christmas songs, and celebrate the coming of Christ.
Advent in 2020 has been different for all of us, including me. We always scale back meetings in December at CTPC to make room for seasonal celebrations, so in that regard, this year does not feel very different. What is different is that there is less gathering and less busyness in other parts of my life. That has led to a more deliberate awareness of preparing for the coming of Christ. The slower pace has allowed the scriptures, the prophecies and the preparation to take on a greater meaning.
In the days that remain this advent season, I encourage you to spend time focusing on the scriptures (the passages listed in calendar on the Kids page are a great resource). Ask God to point you to the hope we have in both the coming of Christ and the return of Christ. Ask God to use the remaining days to get ready – not in the material sense, but in the spiritual.