A woman who evidently had a lot to learn was riding on a Milwaukee bus when she noticed the slogan, “Put Christ Back In Christmas” on a sign. “Gee,” she said to a friend, “even the churches are sticking their noses into Christmas now.”
With all the commercialism of the season of Christmas, and the media’s emphasis on red-nosed reindeer, dancing snowmen, grenches, and Santas, it is easy for the real reason for the season to become lost. That may be why more Christian churches and families are beginning to celebrate Advent.
Advent comes from the Latin word meaning “to come.” It is a time to prepare for God’s greatest gift, the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas Day and is usually observed by using the Advent wreath. The wreath’s circle represents God’s love; the evergreens symbolize the hope of eternal life; the four purple or blue candles represent the four weeks of Advent; the white Christ candle in the center of the wreath is lighted on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A short period of worship (scripture reading, hymn, and prayer) accompanies the candle lighting each week.
There are at least three major areas within which Christians can meditate during Advent. First, we can ponder the initial coming of Jesus Christ to earth, the historical event and its revelations. Second, we can think long and hard about Christ’s personal coming to us, forgiving our sins, and giving us new birth. This can be a time of spiritual renewal. Third, we need to meditate on Christ’s coming in power and glory, the consummation of God’s kingdom, and the end of the world.
As we observe Advent, let us celebrate God’s gift of Jesus Christ and give thanks!
Robert Wilkerson, DMin is the founder of People for the Christian Way, and author of Characters of the Crucifixion, Lost America, and numerous devotionals and articles. He welcomes comments and questions through his email, firstname.lastname@example.org