"O come, o come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel.
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee
Hey everybody. How's it going? For those of you who read yesterday's post, you may have noticed something at the end talking about Advent. I am sure that some of the readers here have heard of Advent before; and may even celebrate it. For those of you who have never heard of Advent, or don't really know what it is, allow me to explain. It started in the year 381 A.D. Back then, it was a three-week time of fasting and prayer before a holiday celebrating the revelation of Jesus to the Wise Men from the east. Around the year 600, Gregory the first refined the time to its present form. Advent starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas [today] and it is not so much a time of fasting now as it is a time of prayer and worship all leading toward the celebration of Jesus's birth. There are many different Advent traditions, but one continuous thread that you usually find is the lighting of candles as a way of counting down to Christmas. Mom and Dad have done "Advent time" with us for as far back as my memory can reach. In our family, we have a time each night of the Advent season [until Christmas day], to read a devotion [there's a enormously wonderful series of books for Advent by a man named Arnold Ytreeide], and sing Christ-centered Christmas carols. At the beginning of each devotion time, we light the next candle on our Advent log. It's a log about 5 feet in length with holes drilled along the top to hold a candle for each night of Advent. On the first night we light a candle on far end of one side, and the next night the far candle on the other side. We keep switching back and forth lighting one more each night as we make our way to the center of the log.[When we light the next candle, we also re-light all of the ones we've been through.] The very center candle is lit on Christmas morning. It is usually a special color to signify Christ's birth. So every night by the light of the candles we have gotten to so far, Mom reads the next chapter of the devotion story, and we sing Christmas songs of worship. Over the years, we have treasured this time more and more. While it might seem to be "just another thing to do during the busy Christmas season", for us it has become a huge blessing to be reminded every night of our Savior's love for us and His masterful and wonderful plan that gave us a Baby in a manger. It is my hope to be able to share with you some of the joy and excitement we have during this season of Advent. I think I'll try to get at least some sort of post off every day, though we'll have to see if I make it every time. By the way, the word "Advent" basically means "coming" or, "the coming of". So when we celebrate Advent, we're really celebrating the Advent [coming of, or birth of], Jesus. Okay, now that I have done my best to explain what Advent is, I will proceed with this series of posts.
"The people who walked in the darkness have seen a great light.
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined." (Is. 9:2)
"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful,
Counselor, Mighty God,
Prince of Peace." (Is.9:6)
In church this morning, we talked about how Christmas started long before a lowly stable in Bethlehem. The prophet Isaiah spoke about this Coming hundreds of years before the shepherds met the angels. The fact is, the birth of Jesus is the "on switch" of God's masterful and daring rescue plan that He had in place since the beginning of time. Bethlehem was in our Lord's heart even as the first bite was taken out of the forbidden fruit back in the Garden of Eden. Even as His words created space and life, the lives of a certain young girl and her Baby were ever in the mind of our God. The groundwork for the manger included 12 tribes, 10 commandments, the giving of the Law, faithfulness, treason, Divine Love, sinful hatred, righteous kings, wicked tyrants, and the other parts of the saga of the One True King and His love and heart for His people despite their constant rejection. The cries of prophets and the screams of raging hearts, the chants of Baal worshipers, and the songs of a repentant nation, were heard in Israel long before the crying of a newborn broke the stillness of a starry Bethlehem night. It is my prayer that during this Advent season, we will realize more and more the love of our Father as we remember and think about His coming into our world.
Shall come to Thee