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The Sacred Spirituality of Advent

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Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall name him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

We are already into the season of Advent. The rush of decorating our homes and purchasing our Christmas presents is in full swing. Jill and I are getting ready for this Friday, with our staff Christmas party. With all this activity, if we are not careful, we will get all the way to Christmas Eve without experiencing the spiritually powerful season of Advent. Let’s look at the spiritual gift Advent is to our faith.

Advent comes from the Latin, adventus, which is a translation of the Greek word Parousia, which speaks of the Second Coming of Christ. Advent looks forward to the Second Coming of Christ. As we read the lectionary Scriptures of the ancient people waiting on the coming Messiah, we can relate as we wait for the Messiah to come again. Our waiting is active and not passive.

We, Christians, perform a number of spiritual activities to enhance the meaning of the seasons. We might keep an Advent calendar; we light an Advent wreath at home and at Sunday worship; read a daily devotion; we put up our Christmas tree with decorations; and, hang the greens. Not all the activities are visible. Advent is a sometimes considered a time of fasting, to enhance one’s focus on the sense of waiting for sustenance amidst discomfort. It matters less what form of spiritual discipline you use, than you focus on your faith during this period of the Church year.

Advent is a shorter length of time than Lent. Advent consists of the four Sundays that are reflected in the four candles at the four corners of the Advent wreath. They encircle the central, white candle, that we light on Christmas Eve. The white candle is called, the Christ candle, because it was brought to flame on the night we celebrate the birth of our Lord.

Do not let the rush of Advent pass by without experiencing the spiritual rituals of this holiday season. By participating in the rituals of Advent, Christmas comes alive and the coming of the Messiah is experienced as a past blessing and a future joy. Pray for God to speak to your heart and mind, giving you the Advent and Christmas blessing found in spiritual waiting, before experiencing the fulfillment on Christmas Eve night. May God bless us all, this Advent and Christmas season!