Monday, December 04, 2006

What is Advent?

The Advent season is underway. For those who don’t know what Advent is all about, you are not alone. I’m not sure there is one shared understanding.

Some churches have an advent wreath as part of their weekly service this time of year. Even that is not standardized. Some use four candles, others use five. The colors of the candles are symbolic but the colors and symbolisms vary too.

I had the joy of contributing to two advent devotional books this season. That experience gave me a new understanding for the Advent.

Most people who celebrate Advent, do so as preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. This makes sense because Advent starts four weeks before Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent varies.

I’ve decided Advent should be our season of life. The definition of advent has to do with coming into view. Christ came into the world’s view 2,000 years ago.

First Corinthians 13:12 says “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

It is so easy to add “Christ” to the name Jesus without considering the significance of who Jesus, the Christ, is. The birth of Jesus is the “coming into view.” We haven’t seen the full picture in clear focus yet.

Sure it’s great to celebrate the coming into view of something great - like seeing the beginning of the parade coming your way. But if we made the effort to get a good spot to view the parade, it would be a bit silly to leave just after it comes into view several blocks away.

This reminds me of the story in Mark 8 where Jesus healed a blind man. The first time Jesus touched his eyes the man could see but not clear. People looked like trees. Jesus touched him again and he could see clearly.

Anyone out there following me? I’m just a bit excited as I type.

Before this healing, the Pharisees have asked for miracles and Jesus says they aren’t going to see any. They have eyes. Jesus is doing miracles all around them but they don’t see it. Then he tells the disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees. The disciples are clueless. I sense a little frustration in Jesus words at Mark 8:21 “Do you still not understand?”

The blind man healing comes right after that question. When the disciples are scratching their heads, Jesus usually sits them down and explains things. (i.e. Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13).

The healing is followed by Peter’s confession of who Jesus is. “Who do people say I am?” Jesus continues “But what about you? Who do you say I am? Peter answered, you are the Christ.”

I hope someone out there is catching the significance of this because I know my words are not expressing the plethora of thoughts rushing through my mind right now.

Jesus, the Christ, came into view. One day we will see him clearly. Not as a baby in a manger. And not in human likeness (see Philippians 2:7). We are living in Advent. Many of us can see Christ but only as a poor reflection. He looks like a person – like us. One day we will see him face to face. Then we will understand fully.

I’m convinced that if we are going to celebrate Advent, it should be celebrated with shouts of Revelation 22:20. “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Keep watching, the Grand Marshal says “Yes, I am coming soon.” Revelation 22:20.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post and reminder!!! Thanks. Would love to read your devotions that you've written for this season.

By the way, I am preparing for an Emmaus weekend in February. Would appreciate your prayers.


the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

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