It is the season of Advent.
The church I attended as a child knew nothing of Advent. I am just now learning about it. For some this is unbelievable. In a previous God reflection, I shared my introverted life of living under a rock. So don’t be shocked.
I love my church tradition. It comes to me on the shoulders of past God-followers who esteemed Scripture and desired to obey. They didn’t always get it right—neither do I. We all had one thing in common. We wanted to obey God.
We didn’t know what to do with Christmas.
The word “Christmas” was not in the Bible. There is no exact day known for the birth of Jesus, and Scripture does not command we celebrate the occasion. However, there were aspects of Christmas we accepted. We latched onto Santa Claus, gifts, lights, decorations, a tree, and great food.
We even sang Christmas carols in school, home, and in the street—but not in church. One of the first times carols rang out in Wednesday evening prayer meeting, I remember a loyal church member left in protest. I am glad those times changed. There are times I fail to live out the teachings of Jesus. I don’t need rules we create fogging up my walk and making me look weird to others for no reason.
Since the 15th century, many in the Christian tradition celebrate Advent.
It begins four Sundays prior to Christmas. Advent is about the defining event of history—God becoming human through birth by a virgin. From a feed trough in a barn of Bethlehem, newly born baby Jesus fulfilled the hope of all men and women.
The four weeks of Advent are a time of prayer, meditation, and fasting on the four advents of faith. Three times God miraculously entered history to prepare humankind for the Garden journey. The fourth time, God will break into human history to gather His children. The Garden will be waiting. I will be in perfect relationship with God.
Advent Week One is about Jesus coming to earth in the form of man. The focus of the week is to contemplate the lost state of humankind and the reality of hope found by looking toward the birth of the Christ child. After waiting for centuries with great expectation, God arrives to begin His Kingdom.
God kept His promise and gave His people a new heart. Advent Week Two highlights Jesus entering the hearts of His people as they obey Him and become ardent followers. The arrival of Jesus is of no benefit for me unless I allow Him to enter into my heart.
The focus of Advent Week Three is Jesus’ crucifixion and its eternal place in God’s role of restoring humankind into relationship with the Creator. Who would not receive benefit from seven days of attention placed on the reality: “Jesus died for me.” For the third time God intervenes in a miraculous way into the timeline of history to restore humanity to Himself. It is an advent worthy of note.
Advent Sunday Four reminds us of the final divine entrance into the world. God will send Jesus to claim His followers and then terminate history, as we know it. Jesus’ return will be the final event to restore the perfect garden.
God will invite me into a personal life with Him—a life beyond my grasp to comprehend. It should be a week of great anticipation to spend seven days at the end of each year by thanking God in advance for a blessing greater than a hundred billion dollar lottery.
Something is wrong when I willingly buy into the consumerism of Christmas while not giving “the reason for the season” a second thought.
To spend each Christmas season—between now and the Garden—with intentional focus on God’s advents or divine entrances upon planet earth would not be a bad way to use my time.
Will you share your own ideas as to how each of us can promote a deeper meditation on God’s four acts to restore the fellowship of God and mankind to the original Garden state?
Stay tuned. – Gary J Sorrells