LitBit Feature – Advent and Christmas
Advent and Christmas. The word “advent” comes from a Latin root meaning “coming” or “arrival”. The length of the season has varied at different times, but is now generally observed over the period of the four Sundays prior to Christmas and has been considered the beginning of the liturgical year since the 9th century. Advent was originally developed as a preparation for the celebrations of Christmas – the arrival or coming of Christ. The season, however, has also come to be a period of reflection on the church’s expectation of a “parousia”, or “second coming”, of Christ. Like all seasons of the Christian year, Advent and Christmas are caught between Easter and (the following) Good Friday. It is in the brilliant light of Easter that Christmas takes on its hopeful significance, and it is the journey from Christmas to Good Friday which fills out our understanding of the one who has come, who will be lost, and who we will meet again. Being seasons of Easter, Advent and Christmas are gospel-seasons of unexpected life out of death. Christian hope arises not out of our desperate need and waiting, nor from the natural potential of a newborn baby, but when both need and potential are flouted by a God who saves us by subverting our understanding of what we need and might become. Advent is not hopeless, nor Christmas optimistic, but are seasons for remembering a future we could not otherwise envision but towards which God draws us, sometimes in spite of ourselves, but always to our benefit and to his glory.