Yesterday was Day 1 of the season of the Church Calendar known as Advent (latin for “coming) . From now until Christmas, we spend time intentionally mediating upon the truth this season brings: God has come among us, clothed in the vestiges of human flesh.
Yes, this time of year was arbitrarily chosen centuries ago to recast pagan lunar festivals in a new light. Yes, many of the traditions of Christmas (fir trees, gift-giving, wreaths, etc.) find their source in pagan socio-religious rites. Yes, Jesus was probably more likely born in April, not December. Yes, Christmas has been co-opted by commercialism and consumerism. Nevertheless, this time has been set aside for nearly two millennia so that Christians around the world could, with one mind and heart, dwell upon the depths of the glory given to us in the events that transpired all those years ago.
And so, as these weeks go by, whenever I am able and inspired, I will try and offer my own meditations and thoughts on this mystery of mysteries. The hope is, I suppose, to shake us from the fog and contempt that familiarity has brought with this season.
Originally, in Church History, this time was meant to be a time of penitence and fasting in anticipation of Christ’s judgment at his second Advent. Over time, though, the Church looked back over Old Testament texts talking about that “Day of Judgment” and saw that, within the community of faith, their response to this was not penitence and confession, but rather worship, celebration, and anticipation for that Day. And so, this time is now marked more by a joyful remembrance of Christ’s First Coming and anticipation for His Second.
(Frankly, the Church calendar is full of plenty of other times to mediate on your sins.)
And so, let’s pull out the good Christmas songs, purchase some good Christmas Ales and ciders, and begin to sing, laugh, and share of the ways that everything has changed because God has taken on flesh. Let us think deeply and praise often.
And let us proclaim the mystery of the faith: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.
[image credit: DUCKMARX on Flickr; creative commons licensing]