The Spirit of Advent

Dec 12, 2008 by

The word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Advent is the beginning of the church year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance.

One of my favorite Advent scripture readings is Luke 1:67-80

The dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Edmund H. Sears, a Unitarian parish minister and author is best know for his composition of the quintessentially Unitarian Christmas carol, “It Came upon the Midnight Clear.”  Some of the lyrics from that carol convey the essence of Advent and what it means to Christians.

For lo! the days are hastening on,

by prophet seen of old,

when with the ever-circling years

shall come the time foretold

when peace shall over all the earth

its ancient splendors fling,

and the whole world send back the song

which now the angles sing.

(Edmund H. Sears, 1849)

As a Christian, Advent and the birth of Jesus Christ are the most joyous occasions of the year. This is the time of the year when the spirit of the Lord is strongest in me. It is a time of great joy and rejoicing. It is the time when I am most optimistic about the world and mankind. Am I excited about the Christmas gifts that I will be opening Christmas Day? Yes. But that excitement is nothing compared to the joy and wonder that the birth of Jesus Christ fills me with. Now if we could just get a little snow on the ground before Christmas…..


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