I first noticed Christmas decorations being sold in the shops this year in late August. Wow, that’s early!!! I just can’t get into the Christmas spirit with four months still to go! That’s one reason why I love Advent Sunday because it marks the beginning of the Christmas season, giving us permission to begin to get ready.
The word advent comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning ‘coming’. It’s a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus and has three dimensions.
First, it’s about the PAST. We look back at Christ’s first coming 2000 years ago as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. That’s what all the nativities and carol services are all about. For most people in the UK we prepare for this by making plans to see family and friends, thinking about food and presents and parties. All that is good as long as we don’t forget the life-changing reality that God became human and lived among us in the person of Christ. That should fill us with thanksgiving and transform our celebrations!
Second, it’s about the FUTURE. We’re to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming – when he will return as King and bring into being a new heaven and new earth. Jesus said that day will come when we least expect it – and we need to be ready. We need to make sure there’s nothing to put right in any of our relationships – with others or with him. If there is, now is the time to deal with it!
And third, it’s about the PRESENT. We’re to look around at our communities, region and nation and pray that the Spirit of Jesus would come and visit us again in his renewing and reviving power. This is not the Second Coming but about a fresh visitation from The Lord who longs to bring spiritual and social awakening to us and our region in our day.
All three dimensions of Advent are important but they’re easily overlooked in the fun, frivolity and festivity of the season. In fact they’re the reason behind our celebrations, giving them meaning and purpose. So use this season to get ready, because Jesus is coming soon!
Which of the 3 dimensions of Advent are you least prepared for? What are you going to do about it?