Happy New Church Year to all. Today (29th November 2009) is Advent Sunday - the first day in the Church's year - and the first day in the Advent Season when we prepare for Christmas. Advent comes from a Latin word adventus, which means 'coming' or 'arrival'.
During Advent we think of two particular times of waiting for an arrival. We remember the people of God waiting for their Messiah (annointed one) to appear. As Christians, we believe that this waiting was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ into our world - the appearance of God into our human day-to-day messiness. The two jargon words that Christians use for this appearance of God in the form of Jesus are 'manifestation' and 'incarnation'.
Many Christians follow a prayer scheme during Advent. The one I shall use this year is shown here. However, if you're a bit slow off the mark, or missed the bookshop there are some excellent on-line resources to help.
You might like to try looking at Ignatian Spirituality's Advent resources
. In particular, I liked the look of the weekly on-line retreat at Making the Parts Whole.
The other waiting for an arrival that we remember in Advent is the Second Coming or Parousia, as it is technically named! The Bible teaches that one day Christ will come again in glory - we have no idea when - but Christians throughout the ages have yearned for this coming.
But I always feel a little anxious that, at this time, we do not forget Christ's other way of being manifest in the world - and that is through us. We are all made in the image of God and therefore bear many marks of God's identity. We can squash these down or build them up in our lives - we have choices.
Take a few minutes to dwell on the words of Paul of Tarsus - if we take these seriously, they are truly life-changing.
1 Corinthians 3.16:
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
To them God chose to make known how great... are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Christ in me, Christ in you - wow! We can be temples where God dwells within and like John the Baptist we can say, 'He must become more and I must become less'.
Enjoy Advent. (personally, I love all the lights!)