Today is the First Sunday in Advent, the beginning of my favorite liturgical season. The term “Advent” comes from that Latin “adventus,” which means “coming.” Advent is a period of waiting and expectation and of preparing. For what?
For the Israelites, there was a long Advent preceding the coming of the Messiah. That long waiting, which lasted generations and generations, is chronicled in the Old Testament, as the world and God’s people waited for the coming of Christ.
For us, each year we go through again this period of waiting during the four weeks of Advent. Our waiting is, of course, different from that of the Israelites. We enter Advent each year knowing the plot line. We know that following the end of this Advent period is Christmas morning, when we celebrate anew the birth of Christ, God taking the form of human to become closer to us than we could possibly imagine.
Knowing the plot line is helpful. Knowing it allows us to lay aside the anxiety the Israelites had about whether the Messiah would really come. Without that anxiety, we can use this Advent as a time of active preparation. Not passively waiting, but actively preparing to welcome Christ anew into our hearts and our lives.
And so as we begin Advent, we should be asking ourselves: What will I do during this Advent to give reality to the rule of Immanuel? How will I help birth Christ into the world?