It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We saw the signs back in October, when the stores started displaying their holiday wares and a few cable channels started airing endless Christmas movies. And now, in this strange season of Covid19, it’s suddenly also Advent Season.
There’s an old preaching illustration about Allied soldiers and German soldiers laying down their weapons to sing carols together on Christmas Eve, a reminder that God’s Story always breaks through, that Christ is always coming into the world, even at the world’s bleakest hour. And so I’m grateful during this season of pandemic and division that Advent comes, and that Christmas is on the way.
The Season of Advent has been a part of the church’s liturgical practices since at least the 5the Century, although there’s scant information on its early formation. Back then the Nativity Fast was an important part of Advent observance, but over time that spiritual practice was dropped in favor Christmas cookies.
Sometimes our celebrations obscure the penitential nature of Advent; we trade fasting in for cookies. But just as Lent is a time of spiritual repentance, so is Advent; this season of preparation is a time to address our wrongs and to get right with God so we’ll be ready to receive Christ anew into our hearts and lives at Christmas. For though the wrong seems oft’ so strong, God is our ruler yet.
The English word ‘Advent’ was developed in the 1100’s as a translation of the Latin word adventus, which means an arrival or an approach. Advent is a season of getting ready because someone important is coming – the Messiah, the Lord.
God is doing something new. Hope is on the way. Vaccines are on the way. New beginnings are on the way.
What new things are possible in our world? In our country? In the United Methodist Church? In the South District? In our churches? In our communities? In our hearts? In our lives?
It’s beginning to look a look like Christmas, and soon the Christ will arrive anew. What do we need to do get ready?
Thanks for listening – and enjoy those Christmas cookies.