Advent! Really?

As we ready ourselves for Christmas at Perry, it is good to be reminded that to arrive at Christmas, Wesleyan Christians first navigate the season of Advent.  Advent is largely no longer practiced by “non liturgical” churches (non-denominational or independent community churches, etc.).  Missing Advent, these churches are missing a great opportunity.  Meanwhile, “Electronic preachers” hawk prosperity gospels and seem to quickly drown.  John the Baptizer’s yearly call to “Make the Lord’s path straight.” Sometimes, we prefer to head “straight” to Christmas too. This is sad and explains why we want to get right to singing Christmas Carols and know so few Advent songs. Yet, marking Advent holds much promise for Wesleyans because we are people of hope and Advent bolsters hope.

The word, advent, comes from the Latin, adventus, which means “coming” or “arrival”. Thus, the Christian season of Advent is meant as a time of self-reflection, preparation, and deepening spirituality in expectation not only of the First Coming of Christ, the Manger-Child of Bethlehem, but the Second Coming of Christ, the King. “Yawn!” might be the response of many modern-day Christians without the Advent tradition. WRONG! No yawning allowed! We find ourselves living between Bethlehem and New Jerusalem. The Second Coming of Christ, the King, heralds New Jerusalem. Living in this “between time” means that we are the keepers of the Good News of the First Coming and heralds of the Promise of the Second Coming. This is hard to do in our culture that is increasingly anti-Christian. Yet, that’s our Christ-given task and why we need the preparations Advent provides.

Help is on the way! This Advent, Bible study and Sunday sermons follow Rev. Adam Hamilton’s book: Not A Silent Night. The study looks at Christmas through the eyes of Jesus’s mother, Mary. Hamilton has a good idea here. Mary certainly lived beyond that night of wonders in Bethlehem and her son’s life was not easy. Much of Jesus’s life must have been difficult for Mary to watch. This Advent, let’s imagine together how Mary beheld the life of her son through his early life, ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection. If we are committed Christians our own lives will, to a lesser or greater extent, mirror the lives of Jesus and Mary in ministry and maybe suffering. As Christians, each of us, will experience physical death, but also, eventually, physical resurrection just like our Savior. Hallelujah! Not A Silent Night brings us hope in these days of violence, terrorism, and antichristian attitudes. Advent helps us with the journey.  Happy preparation for His Coming(s).

Pastor Scott