The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin adventus, which means “the approach” or “the arrival.” The verb is advenio: ” I arrive. I come. I am coming.” Who is coming?
As a season of the Christian year, Advent is ancient. It goes back at least to the middle of the sixth century. Already then its observance defined not only the One who was coming but also those who were faithfully and self-consciously waiting. It defined the peculiar people who looked forward to the coming of that One. Who is coming? Who awaits him?
By the thirteenth century, the Church universal had recognized the season of Advent as the beginning of its year. Advent consisted of four Sundays, the first of which marked a new year for Christians everywhere–and so it was that Advent also defined the times, endings and beginnings, the past and the present, as well as the future when the Blessed One would come.
For nearly one thousand five hundred years Christians have spent the days of Advent not in passive inaction, but in activities strenuous and profitable; they have prepared themselves by scrubbing and cleaning their lives, by examining and repairing their souls–even as people generally prepare themselves body and home to receive a visitor of ineffable importance.
The Son of Man, he is coming. Jesus. That one. Him. And we are the people who await Him. You and I. Since it was for us he died, we are the ones who wait in love. And since he ascended to heaven with promises to return, we wait in faith–for at the next and final Advent, Jesus will take us as friends, as brothers and sisters into his house forevermore. So let’s get ready. Watch. Stay awake. Prepare, prepare–and watch. Our Savior is coming! (Adapted from Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr.)
Now is the time to be thinking about how to wakefully watch and prepare, how to refocus on Jesus and his kingdom during this Advent. For starters, mark your calendars with our Parish Quiet Day (see below). Secondly, dive into our Advent preaching series, “Come Let Us Adore Him,” as we rediscover the heart of worship.