You have heard it said that this is the most wonderful time of the year. What could be more wonderful than celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
However, before we get to the opening of presents and other holiday cheer, we have a season of Advent, which begins on Sunday, December 3rd. The Christmas season starts on December 24th, so hold on and be patient.
Advent is the season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity and the return of Christ at the Second Coming. The Season of Advent anticipates the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives:
The Nativity at Bethlehem
The reception of Christ in our hearts
The Second Coming of Christ
We begin our Advent journey centered around the theme of hope. We hear from Isaiah the Prophet, who foretells of the coming Savior. St. Paul, in his 1st Letter to the Corinthians, brings hope by writing about our strength in Jesus. Mark’s Gospel brings the story of the Second Coming of Jesus and the hope it will bring.
The second week brings us the theme of love. Isaiah asks God to bring comfort to God’s people. Isaiah prophesizes about the coming of John the Baptist, who will prepare the way. We know that John is the cousin of Jesus, and the way of being prepared is the way of love. Bishop Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, says that “the way of Jesus is the way of love, and the way of love can change the world.”
Week three brings Joy. In liturgical churches, the whole mood of the services changes as the rose candle of the Advent wreath is lit. We hear directly from Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she speaks of the gift God has given her by choosing her to be the mother of Jesus. This is the first evangelical telling of what Jesus has come for. We find great joy as we reach the halfway point of Advent.
The fourth and final week of Advent brings us the peace of God that passes all understanding. We hear the first telling of the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Angel greets Mary with the word “Peace.” This is the same word that Jesus will use to greet his Apostles after the Resurrection. Mary’s yes to the Angel brings peace to the whole world, and it is that peace that we are to bring to the world in which we live.
Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Savior. As we prepare our homes, let us remember to prepare a place in our hearts. Amid the hustle and bustle of the coming days and weeks, set some time aside for prayer and meditation and “prepare ye the way of the Lord.”