dvent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year for the Church. It sees the Church begin to prepare for Christmas in all its glory. The word ‘advent’ means coming or arrival. It is a time when Christians are encouraged to remember not only that Jesus came into the world in Palestine 2,000 years ago but that He also promised one day to return in all His glory. As a church we should prepare our hearts and souls for the time when Christ will return.
Many Christians celebrate Advent not only by thanking God for Christ's first coming to Earth as a baby, but also for his presence among us today through the Holy Spirit, and in preparation and anticipation of his final coming at the end of time.
Each Sunday in Advent has a theme to be pondered during the season. In our church a purple candle is lit on three Sundays, also a pink on one Sunday and a fifth, a white candle, is lit on Christmas Day. The four themes traditionally are: God's people, the Advent hope, the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, and Mary the Mother of Jesus.
It is very easy to be carried away with all the preparations as we move towards Christmas Day. Furthermore, as a church we can be sucked into the festive aspects of the celebrations, forgetting to focus on what it means for us as God’s people. It is for us as Christians to open our hearts to receive him with faith, hope and love.
hrist’s coming into the world as a baby gave us a more intimate knowledge of God. Our God was willing to experience our lives by being alongside us. At this time of year, just as we prepare for guests who come for dinner, so also we the Church should prepare in a special way for the coming of Christ at Christmas time by reading our Bibles and by prayer. We are told in scripture, in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” How reassuring that can be for us if we follow that example.
Our Christmas Tree Festival less than a week away. We will fill our church with splendour and wonder with our many trees as we begin our Christmas celebrations. These events that happen in the church throughout the year take many hours and days of preparation by many different people and our thanks must be to Sue Wells and her team as we open the church to the wonder of our Christmas tree festival. May it long continue!
We should never forget that everything we try to achieve throughout the year should be covered by prayer. We are told in scripture in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 6:17-18 to “take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Wonderful words to keep in mind as we move through Advent towards Christmas and the Christmas celebrations and beyond.