Advent is the beginning of the Church calendar.
Advent is marked by a joyful spirit of anticipation, preparation, and longing. The word Advent means coming or arrival. The focus of this season is preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, in his first Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his second Advent. We mark Advent by the four Sundays before Christmas to remind ourselves that Christmas is not just about buying and exchanging Christmas presents, but about celebrating the moment in time when God came to us as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, a moment we call the Incarnation.
Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000-year-old event in history. It is celebrating God’s giving of himself in Jesus whereby all of creation and all people might be reconciled to God, where we can see peace on earth and goodwill to men. We participate in the Advent celebration now, as we wait in anticipation of the fulfillment of all that God has promised. As the church celebrates God’s breaking into history in the Incarnation, we confess own responsibility as a people called to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as yourselves. Advent is how we prepare ourselves for Christmas.
Advent symbolizes our affirmation that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again as the conquering Lamb. This acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what he has entrusted to us as God’s people living in the first advent of Jesus while we wait for his second advent. The season of Advent is filled with mixed emotions. We experience joy, knowing Jesus has come; and longing, knowing these are still not right and we need Jesus to come again.
RETELLING THE STORY
The spirit of Advent is expressed well in the parable of the bridesmaids who are anxiously awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). There is profound joy at the Bridegroom’s expected coming. Advent enables us to retell, relive, and re-enter the Jesus Story – from the crowded stable to the empty tomb. We want to be shaped by the Gospel Story. And the Gospel is a story, not a plan or theory or philosophy or ideology. It is a story, the story of Jesus of Nazareth. This is the story told in the Christian calendar beginning with Advent as we wait for Christ.
THE FOUR SUNDAYS IN ADVENT
- November 29 – 1st Sunday of Advent
- December 6 – 2nd Sunday of Advent
- December 13 – 3rd Sunday of Advent
- December 20 – 4th Sunday of Advent
ADVENT CALENDARS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Go by the OCCKids Check-In Desk and pick up a copy of the Advent Calendar. This handy tool will give you a story to read and an activity families can do together. The hope is that by December 25th your family will have read God’s story of compassion and began writing your own story of compassion by doing a few of the suggested activities.