Our trees are up, our halls are decked, and the house is relatively clean. I mean, maybe we’re not quite ready for Charles and Camilla to visit, but I’d not be embarrassed if, say, William and Catherine or Joe and Jill popped in. For all practical purposes, we are ready for Christmas.
What about y’all? Shopping done? Decorating finished? Parties planned? What does “being ready for Christmas” really mean?
Today is the First Sunday in Advent. I’m about certain that every one of us has seen an “Advent Calendar.” Those cute little things that count down until Christmas. Whilst they can be fun and exciting, they really have nothing to do with “Advent” though. Not really even close. So, one might ask, “What is Advent?” And, as is my custom, I’m gonna tell ya.
Since the 900s, Advent has marked the beginning of the church year, and is a season of great anticipation, preparation, and excitement, traditionally focusing on the Nativity of the Christ Child, when Jesus came as our Savior. During Advent, we as Christians also direct our thoughts to His second coming as judge.
The word Advent is from the Latin adventus, meaning coming,” and is celebrated during the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. Advent always contains four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, (November 30) and continuing until December 24. It blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the Bethlehem event.
Advent is a time of preparation that is marked by prayer. Advent’s prayers are prayers of humble devotion and commitment, prayers of submission, prayers for deliverance, prayers from those walking in darkness who are awaiting and anticipating a great light (Isaiah 9).
So whilst we are preparing our homes for Christmas, should we not also be preparing our hearts and minds? We all of us know that Christmas is on 25 December, and that’s when we celebrate Jesus’s birth. What we don’t know, however, is when Jesus is coming back.
In the Gospel appointed for today, Jesus says to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
As we go about “getting ready” for Christmas, let us not forget what we are really ‘getting ready” for. I invite each of you to have a most blessed, holy, and prayerful Advent. Amen.