Today was the first Sunday in Advent, which is the period defined by the four Sundays before Christmas. While the Advent season itself is not prescribed by Scripture, the concept is very much so. Advent is a time for preparing ourselves for the upcoming celebration of Christ’s birth and all it represents.
Throughout Scripture and life there are times of preparation dictated for momentous events. In Scripture, there are only two days in the week that are given names, the Sabbath, and the Day of Preparation, which is the day before the Sabbath where the people were to make all necessary preparations for food and chores that would not be done on the Sabbath.
In life, babies are not sprung forth fully formed right after conception. There is the gestation period for the baby develops, which gives the parents nine months to prepare for the radical changes about to consume their lives.
Before Passover, Jews are required to prepare their kitchens for the celebration by the removal of yeast and purification of everything in the room.
Marriages are usually, in most cultures, preceded by an engagement or betrothal period so the couple and their families can prepare to merge households and adjust to that new phase of life.
As a Christian, every day, and certainly every time we celebrate Communion, we are expected to be preparing our hearts for eternity with Christ, and expecting it to happen at any moment. Christ gave us many parables, and the apostles gave many warnings about always being found ready.
Preparation is necessary. Especially today, so aptly described by Daniel as a time when people will go to and fro and knowledge shall increase, we need to make the time to prepare, otherwise Christmas gets lost in the normal busyness of our lives, compounded by the holiday chaos. Given that we don’t really know for sure the date of His glorious incarnation, December 25 is not a day any more intrinsically holy than any other. However, our need to take time out from our lives and remember and celebrate the birth of our King, our Saviour, our God, is worthwhile, lifting our attentions above the everyday, to remind and inspire us to our purpose.
To my awareness, there is little to no evidence that the early saints celebrated Christ’s birth. Indeed, the only prescribed celebrations or sacraments given in the New Testament are baptism and the Lord’s Supper, with marriage being an older one, predating even the Old Testament. However, in particular, Communion is about remembering the Lord’s death for our atonement, and requires us to prepare our hearts. In the Old Testaments, several festivals were established and ordained by God to remind the Jews of His direct hand in their history, and for them to celebrate it. Thus, it is not inconsistent to celebrate Christmas, although it is easy to lose sight of its true purpose and joyful gravity. Therefore, Advent is all the more useful to those who will use it to draw their attention to Christ over the bling.
Each Sunday of Advent, I will share a bit about the theme for that day. As I started this series late, tomorrow will be about the first Sunday, but then we’ll get back on course this weekend.
Day 31 Praise: For this final day of praise, on the first Sunday of Advent, let us all praise the Father of Grace for the gift of salvation through the incarnation of His Son.