‘Tis the season to be jolly?

Posted on 01 December 2008
We associate advent with a wreath and candles and for children of course the advent calendar but what is it really all about?

It is a time of year that a lot of us dread as it means buying the right gifts for all our friends and relatives and writing Christmas cards to everyone on our list. It takes in a long and stressful visit to an extremely busy supermarket and then an attempt to find space for all of it in the freezer and in the cupboards. It involves getting children and grandchildren ready for various plays and nativities. It often means a time of getting the house ready to welcome visitors.

Advent was also traditionally time for preparation, but a different kind of preparation. It was a time when Christians prepared to celebrate the coming of Jesus to the earth. Advent derives from the Latin word meaning ‘coming’ and relates particularly to look at the coming of Jesus Christ. This preparation traditionally meant a time of fasting and penitence for the church similar to lent, rather than our more modern approach as a time of festivities.

This coming is three-fold, looking at the past, present and future of the coming of Jesus. First it talks of the coming which the Israelites looked forward to in the Old Testament. Right from when the Israelites looked for deliverance out of Egypt when they were slaves, right through the stories of the Old Testament when at various points when Israel looked for its king to come to deal with the oppression they faced throughout their history. But God’s promises to the Israelites went further than this, pointing to a salvation not only from worldly powers but the powers of death and sin. Many promises were made about him in the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 53 it is promised that he will come to deal with the sin of the world by dying and enduring God’s wrath

It relates to Jesus coming to the earth, including the main nativity story up to Jesus birth, with John the Baptist coming before him to point to Jesus as the Messiah and the journey of Joseph and Mary, with child, to Bethlehem. They also relate to his ministry in his time on earth and to his death and resurrection.

Lastly it serves to remind us about the future as we anticipate second coming of Jesus. Much as the Israelites looked to first coming of the Christ, we look forward to the time when Jesus will come again.

So between the all the usual chaos of the next few weeks perhaps we could all take a few moments to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas each day. From 1st December a brief daily video made by Gareth will be available to watch on the website, and would be a really good way of just taking that little time.

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