Sunday, November 29, 2009

The First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  I wonder how many people understand the significance of Advent.

Advent  is a season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus; in other words, the period immediately before Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday.

Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming. Christians believe that the season of Advent serves a dual reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting that Christians today endure for the second coming of Christ.

We are encouraged to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's first coming into this world. We ponder again the great mystery of the incarnation when our Lord humbled Himself, taking on our humanity, and entered our time and space to free us from sin. On the other hand, we remember that our Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead and that we must be ready to meet Him.  

So Advent is a time of joy and a time of preparation.  It is a time to expose the darker areas of our lives to God's pure Light and to turn away from venality, carnality and sin.  Its a time of preparing ourselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be fit to meet our saviour.  

Here is a parable from Matthew 25, telling us of the importance of being prepared to meet God.

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.
The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.
The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

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