Advent is an ancient tradition in the church. It is the first season in the calendar, wonderfully so, since it is the incarnation and the beginning of a new thing that God is accomplishing–our salvation! What better way to begin the year? And we do it with an entire season not just a single day! As someone said this week, at school, we as a church developed the elongated season of Advent because they realized that a single-pagan-turned-Christian-holiday was not enough to fully celebrate the great miracle and mystery of God taking on flesh and coming to dwell here, among us!
We didn’t do too much with Advent growing up. It’s my experience that churches one might consider contemporary or modern or non-denom do not celebrate the Advent. Perhaps it is the aversion to tradition. But that makes it no less saddening. It is sad in a variety of ways. IN holding on to Advent the church has a chance to remember throughout the season what the truth is, rather than be caught up in the materialism and overly rushed spirit these five weeks so often engender. Advent is contemplative, not hurried, and grateful rather than greedy and stressed by unnecessary demands.
Advent is also incredibly rich in theology. It is here we remember the history of our faith, the roots from whence we came. Emmanuel! we sing, Emmanuel shall ransom Israel, for it is we who are grafted on to those whose seed has blessed us after the destruction of the Garden. And it is during Advent that we sit in expectation and ruminate over our untidy space in time–this awkward gap between the incarnation and the second coming. It is the waiting zone, the purgatory between the two advents. We dwell in the mystery of here and not yet. And in the waiting of Advent we realize we ought to long for the second advent, when time will wrap up and Abba will finish making all things new. You see? Theology! From a calendar!
Advent is important because it re-centers us around Jesus Christ and the high point of our faith. It is the time when God pitched his tent among us and the divine came to show Himself that we might know Him by name and share in the enjoyment of eternity.
Happy Advent my friends. May the time be rich for you and may you be mindful of the many ways in which the Father blesses us each day through the incarnation of His Son and the gift of the Spirit. And may you look forward with earnest hope to the day when all things will be made new, when all will come to its end* in God and the second coming will mean our very own Advent into renewed and more excellent life.
*end as in telos and Aristotelian causes. Also, see the Westminster Catechism for a more Western and less heady explanation.