Advent is Coming (pt 3)
Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Prepare. Celebrate. Reflect. That’s the basic pattern for Advent, Christmas Day, and the Christmas Season. I introduced this pattern in part 2 of this series. The same goes for the other major seasonal cycle of Lent, Easter Day, and the Easter Season. These cycles are three-part wholes. Yet each part, each season, has its own identity, themes, and tone. This leads to my main idea for this series. It’s pretty simple.
Advent precedes the Christmas Season, but Advent is not a pre-Christmas season. Advent is related to Christmas, certainly. Yet, Advent has a thematic and devotional integrity of its own. It’s about beginnings that are endings and endings that are fulfillments (the one, unified fulfillment—Jesus, himself—adored in two arrivals, two advents).
The first arrival of Advent is what we call the Second Coming of Jesus. That’s where Advent starts. It’s a strange start. Because we often call Jesus' Second Coming the end of the word, or the end of this age. This is the big theme for Advent, calling the faithful to prepare, to engage our personal and corporate preparation for the permanency and uncontested rule of God’s presence, goodness, truth, and love.
That there is a Second Coming tells us there was a first. Though it was historically prior, this is the second arrival that we celebrate during Advent. Advent shapes our celebration of Jesus' first Advent by calling our attention to his promised second Advent. As a result, the Advent season doesn’t Christianize our existing holiday season. Advent revolutionizes how Christians experience history as creation and blessing, promise and fulfillment.
We have to listen carefully for this. Because Advent goes by fast, quickly unfolding in the midst of one of our most schedule stretching months of the year. We all know the press and stress of the few weeks between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day! So our devotional challenge is to prioritize the message of Advent while enjoying the gifts and delights of Thanksgiving and Christmas with family and friends.
The church's prayers and worship strategies help us with this challenge. And that subject will be covered in a series of posts on the Collects of Advent.