Sunday, December 4, 2011
The first three psalms (80, 85 and 126, Advent 1, 2, 3) all contain the verb "to restore." This suggests a theme that speaks to the spiritual hunger within all of us -- that of having once known a very precious truth that has somehow slipped from our grasp. The human dilemma is that we spend a lot of time groping on our hands and knees in the dark, hoping to find a light that will reveal the meaning of life, or a lantern that will light our path. What we need is a Savior, the Light of the World, to come to us and reveal the truth, and perhaps to remind us that the treasure we've been seeking isn't the true treasure after all. Although the word "restore" is not used in the Psalm reading for Advent 4, clearly the writer feels that God's love for the people of God has been restored; once again, the love of God as evinced through God's faithfulness has been decisively demonstrated, and certainly the incarnational act is the ultimate evidence that God has not abandoned us, but rather loves us, is committed to us and indeed is among us.
Advent 1, November 27: Restoration of Hope
Advent 2, December 4: Restoration of Peace
Advent 3, December 11: Restoration of Joy
Advent 4: December 18: Restoration of Love
Advent is the first season in the church liturgical year. It begins on the fourth Sunday before December 25 each year. Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the Nativity of Jesus on Christmas.
Historically, the primary sanctuary color for Advent has been purple. There has been an increasing trend to supplant the color purple with blue as the primary color for Advent in the past several years. Blue is a color associated with hopefulness and promise. Advent, symbolized by the color blue, becomes a season of hopeful preparation for Bethlehem and the consummation of history in God’s rule on earth.
Advent scripture and music focus on God’s coming into the world in the past, our own preparations for God’s presence in our lives now, and our hopes for the presence of God in our world in the future. We combine our past, present, and future during Advent as we celebrate Emmanuel (God-with-us).
The season of Advent ends on Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Only then do we turn our thoughts to the stories of Jesus’ birth, the star, the shepherds, and rejoicing. Only when we have fully prepared through Advent can we sing the songs of Christmas and proclaim that God has come to us and remains with us now and always.
Prepare for God. Be ready for God. Don’t rush to the end! Don’t hurry by! Watch, look, hope, and know that in the preparing, the ready, the unhurried pace to grace, God can be seen and found. Mark Advent well so that Christmas Joy will be a real experience and not merely a nice feeling.
Peace and Good Cheer,