When our children were much younger and living at home, I have memories of an Advent calendar that we had bought. Behind each number was a Scripture verse relating to Christmas and the season of Advent and a chocolate.
It was with eager anticipation that the children wanted to open the next flap – first we read the
verse from the Bible to them and then came the chocolate treat. We never missed a day’s special treat.
With all the commercialism, alas folk have all but forgotten why Advent and Christmas are celebrated. While celebration is important and the giving and receiving of gifts is part of the fun and festivities, let us not forget why we celebrate this season of Advent!
On closer inspection from a Christian perspective Advent is a time of preparation and has elements of solemnity and joyfulness. Advent is primarily a time of anticipation for not only the Christmas event of the birth of the infant Jesus, but also of our anticipating the Second Advent of Christ and all that will mean to humanity. Jesus birth was certainly not the end of the Advent story, but only the most important beginning.
What does the Second Advent or Coming of Christ mean? In the Nicene Creed we say:
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
If we carefully consider these words, they have far reaching implications and also consequences. So often their true import is lost in the clouds of religious mystery that we love to recite, but do not consider.
Firstly, if Christ is indeed going to return to this world as its King and Judge, then we ought to sit up and take account of what the Creed is saying! None of us like to think of Christ as a judge, but that is what this age old statement of faith says.
Secondly, if this is true and he will judge all, then how should we live? Surely as those who live humbly, justly and righteously day by day.
The Baby Christ was not just born in a manger long ago, but he also wants to be born into each of our heart and lives. This is what Advent and Christmas is all about. Some years ago a wealthy Christian businessman paid for all Christmas postage stamps in the UK to be franked with the words: Put Christ back into Christmas. Today that would most likely not be considered to be PC or be allowed by the Royal Mail.
How about all of us considering to invite Christ to be not only the centre of our Christmas celebrations, but also the centre of our personal lives, not only at this Advent, but always?
Every blessing in your Advent preparations, in Christ’s love,
Rev. Roni Mechanic
Escomb Group of Churches.
Photograph: Copyright Newcastle Evening Chronicle