By Pastor Mark Combs
I was thinking this week that it is probably time to start figuring out what sort of Valentine’s present I should buy for Becky this year. If you follow the wisdom of television, it seems that you can’t go wrong with jewelry and flowers. There are those who say that the thing to do is chocolate and flowers with a good meal. I guess I will just have to put some more thought into the decision. . .
I am willing to bet that at this point you are starting to wonder if I have lost my mind. However, if we are following the pattern of the way of the world, then it is clearly time to be thinking about the Spring holidays. If you have any doubt, then think back to when you heard your first Christmas ad for this year. I heard mine in September, but I couldn’t think of a good gift giving holiday for March.
Yes, I do realize I have a small streak of sarcasm in me, but I do not think I am too far off base in my perception of the world. The problem with what is happening in our world today is that our world seems to have absolutely no ability to live in the moment. We live in a culture of such rampant consumerism, that Thanksgiving is almost a non-holiday. We always seem to be looking past where we are, and looking to what we have identified as the next big thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that we have to do some preparation to be ready for things that are coming. Too often, though, we are so wrapped up in looking ahead that we forget where we are in the present.
I don’t believe that God wants us to work this way. While I believe that our Father wants us to be living in the moment, and I also believe that the church year is set up in such a way as to help us. Think about how the church calendar is structured. The church year starts with the First Sunday of Advent and runs to Christ the King Sunday. The calendar is set up this way so that each year we go again on the journey with our Lord Jesus from birth to death, resurrection and ascension, followed by the birth of the church and the time of the church. I won’t cover all of these points of the church year, but challenge us all to think about what advent means and what it is supposed to do for us.
Advent is from the Latin and it means, “to come.” The church has observed advent since about the middle of the fifth century. Advent is a time of preparation – first for the celebration of the birth of the baby at Bethlehem, but also, and perhaps more important, for the second coming of Christ when he will judge the living and the dead.
I realize that advent is a time of preparation – a time for getting ready for Christmas. I also see that our world does not seem to be getting ready – our world jumps right to the next big thing. For the world we live in, there is really no concept of getting ready for something so earth shattering as Christ’s return. The world we live in is totally focused on the commercialism and the presents.
My challenge to you, as we start into the month of December, is to not get caught up in the way of the world, but instead to actually celebrate advent. Yes, I know, the world will look at us as if we are strange. We, however, will be so much better prepared and better off by actually observing advent and celebrating Christmas (that starts on December 25 and goes through January 6) when it happens! Have a holy and blessed advent.
Until next time.