THOUGHTS ON ADVENT
Today is the first day of December, the last month of the year. Today also marks the opening of the first day of Advent Calendars of various kinds. Very often today of a chocolately variety!
But what exactly is Advent? I have to say that as a student in training for the ministry some years ago, I found it sometimes difficult to adjust to what were for me alien concepts such as ‘the Christian year’, which I had never heard of before. As a typical Lewis lad dropped into the life and work of a large city centre Congregation in the heart of Aberdeen, I struggled with some of the things I had to do, and as much from sheer unfamiliarity as anything. On one particular Sunday morning, I was asked to lead the worship and preach, whilst the minister sat in the Congregation to observe how things went. I stood confidently at the front and welcomed everyone as I envisaged he would have and said “Good morning and welcome to worship at Holburn Central Parish Church on this the first Sunday of Advent”. The Congregation burst into hysterics! Somewhat taken aback I tried to compose myself and tried again “Good morning and welcome to worship on this the first Sunday in Advent” again even more hysterics. The problem was it wasn’t Advent, it was the end of March! An elder bellowed at me as only an Aberdonian can ‘IT’S LENT! ‘.
Terms like Advent and Lent may have been new to me then, but when stripped away of all human additions, Advent helps us focus on Jesus coming to our world, as Lent is supposed to help us prepare for Jesus crucifixion and suffering for us.
Advent may be thought of as the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day, but of much more significance is the fact that it represents the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. As John 1:14 puts it so wonderfully
The word used to describe this miraculous event is INCARNATION. God was becoming human and taking human flesh.
The implications of this are awesome, and even more so when we think exactly why He became flesh – became human. God was keeping His promises to humanity. The promises that he would send His Deliverer, His Messiah or Saviour, to set people free. The prophecy given by Isaiah of Jerusalem 600 years before was being fulfilled.
Later on in his prophecy, Isaiah goes on to say in chapter 61 reminds us so powerfully, God was sending His own Spirit-filled, anointed Deliverer who would preach good news to the poor, who would bind up the brokenhearted, who would proclaim freedom to the captives, who would give release from darkness for prisoners, who would announce the year of the Lord’s favour, who would bestow on His people a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
He was sending His Son, Jesus the Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He has come as the Light of the World, the Light from which darkness flees. He has come, God’s promise was kept, God’s master plan was put into action, a plan that would be completed the day the Son of God would bow his head in death on a Roman Cross and declare triumphantly with His last breath “It is finished”.