(Note: The following is a summary of the Advent Reading that we had today at City Church. It is offered for you as an Advent meditation on this day of the Advent season).
From it’s beginning in Church history, the season in the Church Year called “Advent”, which means “coming”, was seen as preparation for Christmas. In the early years of this observance, Advent was seen as a season of great seriousness, and as such repentance and preparation for the coming of Christ was always front and center. The Christmas holiday season actually begins December 25th and ends January 6th with the celebration of Epiphany.
The time leading up to December 25th, the time we are now in, is the celebration of Advent, the celebration of remembering Christ’s First Coming (His First Advent). This is a time that sits along side the anticipation of Christ’s return at his Second Advent. Both Advents recognize the prayer: Come, oh Come Emmanuel.
The people of Ancient Israel hoped for Emmanuel’s coming, the coming of God’s Savior, and that is our same hope today. The church has the same hope as we look to the second advent of Christ’s return.
This morning at our Sunday worship service, we lit the first advent candle, which represents hope. It was just a few months ago when we were devastated by Hurricane Harvey that in a television interview a resident of Port Aransas said, “We could sure use some hope right now.” He is correct. But that message of hope isn’t just for those who went through storms like Harvey, much of our current world suffers from a crisis of hope. Hope is not wishful thinking or holding a positive thought. Real hope, Gospel drenched hope, comes from a response to God’s promises that are as real today as they ever were. The ultimate promise being the Lord Jesus Himself.
In response to the advent of Christ, the church as God’s people, became a gathered and gathering community. At the first Advent that gathering began in Galilee, the very point of juncture between ancient Israel and the Gentile people. It was a time of darkness, having no hope in the world, when they saw a great light and the gathering began inviting all people, lepers and centurions, Jews and gentiles, rich and poor and everyone in between.
It was the old prophet Isaiah in 742BC who first heard God’s call and “saw the Lord high and lifted up” and he was never the same.
From the Prophet Isaiah chapter 60: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. 21 Then all your people will be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. 22 The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.”