The word “Advent” means coming. When Jesus was born into the world that was his first Advent; we await, in joyful anticipation, his 2nd Advent.
Those long, long years ago, and even long, long years before that 1st Advent, prophets were sharing with the world the signs by which to mark the coming of the savior, the messiah. When we read these portents we can see clearly that the prophets were speaking of Jesus of Nazareth who was born in Bethlehem to a young virgin. His birth was marked by a star and visitations of angels heralding the arrival of the messiah. Three wise men correctly interpreted the signs and set out to see and worship the Lord bearing great gifts of gold (riches for the King), incense (a pleasing aroma to our God; a priestly offering) and myrrh (herbs used in the preparation of the body for burial).
Years after the birth of Jesus, his cousin, John, known as John the Baptist, took up baptizing people in the river Jordon (to wash away sin and prepare them for a more powerful baptism, by fire, or the Holy Spirit) proclaiming, “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand! Make way for the Lord! Make straight paths for the Lord!”
Why did the prophets repeatedly tell us these things? Why did they offer us clues for the coming of our Lord, Jesus the Christ? It was so we could prepare ourselves for his coming and be prepared to receive greater spiritual gifts of his giving. Jesus FREED us from sin, taught us the name of God, showed us the love of God and gave us understanding of the commandments and how they are fulfilled through him. God desires that we reside in his presence. Jesus prayed that we would join him in his place beside God so that we could see and feel his glory from the Father and love the Father as the Father loves Jesus and as Jesus loves us. God calls us to his Son and those who come to the Son belong to the Son. They are called “Christians”.
Before he died, Jesus assured the disciples and followers that he would come again for the final judgment and to renew heaven and earth. Jesus gave them signs to look for that indicate his 2nd coming was near. After the death of Jesus on the cross, the disciples travelled and spread the “Good News”, the Gospel. They shared all that Jesus taught and shared the promises of Christ Jesus including his assured return. In the book of Revelations, John foretells the second coming of Jesus and gives to us the clues, the signs of his nearing arrival. Do we need Wise Men to read the signs for us and tell us when Jesus will return? No, because like the time before his first advent, we do not know the hour or the day of his arrival. Only the Father knows the hour and the day that Jesus will return a 2nd time.
What do we do? We prepare. We need to be ready at anytime to respond to the second coming of Jesus. We can prepare ourselves by contemplating and opening our hearts and minds to the scripture concerning the 1st advent and the promise of the 2nd advent. In doing so we learn to appreciate that we, unlike the Israelites of old, have a great advantage: we know that the coming of the Messiah was fulfilled through Christ Jesus. We know, too, that God always keeps his promises and covenants. Like the Israelites we are the ones who do not uphold our side of the promise and the covenant with God. A people who cannot live in the covenant need a savior, they need Jesus. When we are able to let all things fall aside (pride) and simply contemplate our deep desire for Jesus and our strong yearning for God and his grace and his love then we are able to prepare ourselves for the advent of the Lord, Jesus. When we can contemplate the love that God has for the Son and desire to share in that love we are preparing ourselves for the Lord. When we understand the Love that the Father has for the Son and the love the Son has for us and we deeply love Jesus we are prepared.
Advent is about preparing a way for the Lord to come into our life, into ourselves and make us new. The colors of Advent, like Lent, are purple which is representative of repentance. To repent means to have a sincere and complete remorse for sins one has committed. Sin is what creates a barrier that separates us from God, which was the purpose of Jesus’ death on a cross. As we prepare for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ, let us drop our personal shields, let go of our pride and take up a mantle of humility giving us the heart and mind of a child and truly repent and truly seek the understanding of that love which God has for Jesus and for us, and the love that Jesus has for the Father and for us. We need to feel the love and not just academically understand that it exists. Reach with our hearts, and with our souls which are already reaching toward God even through our pride.
The Psalm this week is Psalm 25: To You, O Lord, I Lift Up My Soul. Please note that the lead sheet has the correct refrain BUT the music sample (link)
has the original recorded refrain. The melody line remains the same, but the refrain is different between the recording and the lead sheet (link)
Sunday November 29th marks the beginning of Advent. Do you have your Advent wreath set up? Did you pick up an Advent prayer book in the Narthex at church for a $1 donation? This is a GREAT family Advent activity! I strongly urge you to continue the practice or take it up new!
Have a blessed first week of Advent!