Advent. The word is perhaps well known, but little understood. It comes from a Latin word, meaning “arrival”. In Christianity it has much to say about our faith. It is the period of four Sundays that come before Christmas Day, hence the calendars that now feature chocolates and more things. It is a time of waiting, but not simply the wait before Christmas arrives. It is also about preparation, and, perhaps less well known, it marks the start of the Church’s new year.
So, lets look at each one of these aspects:
- Waiting for Jesus. It would seem that this refers to Christmas. Right? Well, not necessarily. In fact, Advent is more really about waiting for Jesus to come back. After his death and resurrection, and then his ascension, Christians have been waiting for Jesus to return. Advent is a time when this waiting becomes more significant, when Christians take some time to think about what this return might mean. And this leads to…
- Preparing for Jesus’ return. Waiting is one thing, and hope plays a major role in this. However, preparation is a valuable aspect of Advent. It is a time to reflect upon how you live, how you might be ready for the coming of Jesus, and what difference this would make in your life. Christians sometimes talk about welcoming Jesus into their lives, to live differently. Advent is an important time to pause and consider just what that might mean. This leads us onto the…
- New Year. Advent represents a time of new beginnings, of recognising how you might have lived better during the year before. You might recognise moments when you have treated others badly, have ignored or disregarded people who needed to know you care for them, perhaps you may have turned away from doing ‘the right thing’. Advent is a time to get that all out in the open, and to give thanks that God forgives all you do.
In this way, by waiting, reflecting, preparing and renewing, Christians can be ready to welcome Jesus, as he returns to their lives. Christianity talks a lot about ‘discipleship’, of discovering ways to follow and live like Christ. At Advent this becomes more tangible, more meaningful. As the year goes by, we all of us fall away to some extent. Advent is a time to regroup, to reconnect with our faith and to find ways, once again, to be better disciples of Christ.
If you are interested in finding out more about Advent, or any aspect of the Christian faith, please do get in touch. Either email us at St John’s or come along when we have our worship. The times are shown on the diary page. There is a lot more to Christianity than we can describe here. And there are never any silly questions!