Attending church around this time of year is always a little different than normal-- for obvious reasons, and maybe some not so obvious ones.
Hearing the story of the birth of Christ always seems like news to me-- I may have heard the story a few times, but the magic of it never ceases to consume me.
According to christianity.com, the first two Sundays in Advent (through Dec. 16) look forward to Christ’s second coming, and the last two Sundays (Dec.17–24) look backward to remember Christ’s first coming. The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia, meaning “presence.”.
I always feel like a child when I try to truly comprehend this, and I feel even more child-like trying to wrap my mind around the true present of Christmas.
During each Sunday of the Advent season, one of the four virtues which Jesus brings is focused upon: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace, (What better time to ‘try’ church than right now?!).
A candle is lit to represent each virtue, on each Sunday leading up to Christmas Day.
When I was literally a child, I remember going up in front of the congregation with my mother and sisters to light the candle representing love one year. At the time, the weight of the ‘ritual’ didn’t resonate like it does now. I even remember not knowing that my chocolate-filled Advent calendar counted down more than just the days until Santa Claus came to visit.
I wonder how the story will sound to me when I am older. I try to hang on to the memories of the holiday season with my husband, in hopes of looking back on them with a family one day, continuing traditions we laid down when there was only the two of us.
Although it can be easy to focus solely on the gift exchange part of Christmas, the season of advent offers us a balance of the two elements of remembrance and anticipation--and because I have not had the honor of being called into Ministry, I offer this advice from christianity.com:
“While Advent is certainly a time of celebration and anticipation of Christ’s birth, it is more than that. It is only in the shadow of Advent that the miracle of Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated; and it is only in the light of Christmas that the Christian life makes any sense. It is between the fulfilled promise of Christ’s first coming and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise of his second coming that Karl Barth (theologian) penned these words: “Unfulfilled and fulfilled promise are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. Both are promise and in fact the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.” The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again. This is the essence of Advent.”’
Kelly is a Staff Writer for the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487, or she can also be reached via email at kslavenGCDW@outlook.com.