December 2016 Pastor’s Perspective

The Season of Advent

Each year Christians observe the season of Advent during the four weeks leading up to Christmas.  Why?  Advent means a coming or arrival and refers to the coming of the Lord at his birth, his coming to us today, and his return at the end of time.

Over 2000 years ago a son was born into this world in a small, insignificant town called Bethlehem which was in Roman occupied Judah.  Only the boy’s family knew then that Jesus was God’s gift, his Son, who was destined to die as our Savior.  Today our Savior comes to our world in humble shape in believers, the Word of the Lord we hear preached, and in the bread and wine of his Supper.  He acts in and through us to influence our world for good.  One day Jesus will return to live among his people, sharing with us the strength and beauty and goodness of our God for all eternity.

The message of Advent is “Come back, Lord!  Judge us, and break the terrible hold that evil has on the world.”  We remember the promise of Christ’s return even as we prepare ourselves for the Festival of Christmas.  We are redeemed in Christ so we do not fear his return.  Instead, we look forward to it.

We use an Advent wreath in worship to help us count down the weeks until Christmas.  Its bright candles dominate the wreath, as the Light of the World overcomes the darkness and warms a wintry world.  The candles are lit first one, then two, three and finally are four at one time leading us to Christmas and lighting the center Christ Candle on Christmas Eve.  We use the color purple to emphasize the message of repentance.  Some churches use royal blue symbolizing the royalty of our King of kings and also the joy of the season.

Try some Advent activities in your home.  Read each day’s Christmas cards at mealtime and include the senders in your table prayer.  Make a ritual of putting out your nativity set a few pieces at a time.  Bring out the Christ Child on Christmas Eve.  Place the wise men at a distance, bringing them near on Epiphany (January 6).  Review the charitable appeals received in the mail and each Sunday chose one or more for an Advent contribution.  Cut out a symbol or picture from the chosen appeals and tie them to your tree.

Take time to read scripture during this season.  The Sunday readings include prophecies from Isaiah and John the Baptizer.  They remind us that we are waiting for God’s coming among us and therefore have some preparing to do.  Isaiah promises that the faithful Lord will keep his promise to return to his people, resurrecting his dwelling place among humankind, giving holiness to his people and healing justice to a broken society—a new age that will be recognized by all.


FIRST Sunday in Advent: Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44 (November 27, 2016)

SECOND Sunday in Advent: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12 (December 4, 2016)

THIRD Sunday in Advent: Isaiah 35:1-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11 (December 11, 2016)

FOURTH Sunday in Advent: Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25 (December 18, 2016)

Christmas Eve: Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

Christmas Dawn: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98

Christmas Day: Isaiah 62:10-12; Hebrews 1:1-12; John 1:1-14

Enter into this season with hope and awareness of Jesus’ presence among us now.  Capture the essence of the season by focusing on Christ in your heart.

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