By Mark

Today is December 1st (well it is in Mongolia).  Many people think that the Christmas season begins in December, except for Wal-Mart who thinks it begins in October.  The Advent season is an opportunity for the Church to observe and reflect on the coming of Christ.  Advent is marked by the four Sundays prior to Christmas and began this past Sunday.  I did not grow up in a tradition that observed Advent but have found it a meaningful season to draw my heart and affections past cheesy decorations and back to the expectancy of Christ.  Below is an article that I wrote during my time in Russellville about what Advent is.  Several Advent devotionals are available on the web as well. 


The Meaning of Advent

The Advent season is a time to pause and reflect upon God who became man in Jesus Christ. The four Sundays prior to Christmas day, which make up the advent season are filled with Joy, hope, and excitement as well as contemplation and confession in seeking to understand the meaning of the birth of Christ. The word advent comes from the Latin word that means to come to. It is a time to stop and think about what it means to celebrate Christmas; Christ the Messiah, come in the flesh.

We cannot celebrate the birth of Christ without also confronting our absolute dependence upon Him for salvation. The presence of sin in our lives inhibits our fellowship with God. It is only through Christ that we can be reconciled to God, therefore the celebration of His birth calls for a time of contemplation and rejoicing. As we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ and long for His return, may we make this a season of confession, prayer, meditation, and hope. As we seek God we must engage His truth and prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christ. We need to remind ourselves that our joy and celebration is not found in what the world offers. Our joy is through the means of grace found in our Lord Jesus Christ. Our hope, which is joy and light, is found nowhere else in the world around us. In this season may we prepare ourselves and hold nothing back. Let us shout for joy for the one who has come: Emmanuel, God with us.