Recently, someone handed me a copy of our Advent worship bulletin from 1965. That is almost 60 years of Advent celebrations here at ORPC, and maybe more if it started even further back. But what makes celebrating Advent so special that it has become an integral part of our tradition? Robert Webber, in his book Ancient-Future Time, said that “the life of worship is not in the ritual itself but in the lives of the people shaped by the message of worship.” In this vein, the significance of Advent lies in what it teaches us and how it shapes our lives.
The Advent season marks the beginning of the liturgical year or the Christian year, which many churches use to teach the important events in the life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As they pattern their lives according to Jesus’ life, the church and believers are called to respond to these events in inward and outward worship.
The Advent season is a time of spiritual preparation when four Sundays before Christmas are set aside to reflect on the gospel of the Incarnation, when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus was born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago not just because Israel needed a Saviour, but because we all needed one. Thanks be to God that to all who confess him as their Lord and Saviour, he gives eternal life and the victory to break free from the powers of sin! However, it is only when Christians become like Jesus, reflecting his heart and his character, that they truly experience advent.
Advent is a reminder of Jesus’ first coming and also his second coming. “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). This good news is not only for Christians but for everyone. However for Christians, Advent is a special reminder to share the gospel and prepare others for his second coming.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Through our worship, our Bible readings, our prayers, our reflections, and even in the lighting of the advent candles, let us ask God to show us who Jesus Christ really is, who we are as his followers, and what we should be like to our fellow believers and to the world.