It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Of course, in some places that started months ago. It is, after all, convenient to be able to buy your zombie Halloween costume on one aisle and your tinseled garland (or is it garlanded tinsel?) on the next.
Other signs of the season: people with cuts, bruises and dark, baggy eyes still recovering from Black Friday shopping; credit cards hot to the touch from the friction of holiday-pace swiping; turkeys who survived Thanksgiving starting to look over their shoulders again; and boycotters getting ready for every “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Xmas” sign. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
During the month of December, I have decided to give Life Matters an Advent flavor through some Advent/Christmas carols. Full disclosure: growing up in a small, traditional Southern Baptist church, I don’t remember even hearing the word “advent.” So for anyone with a similar background, here’s the Wikipedia version.
“Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning ‘coming.’ Advent is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday … At least in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian and Methodist calendars, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Dec. 25, which is the Sunday between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3.
“Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah and to be alert for his Second Coming.”
Charles Wesley (1707-1788) was one of the most prolific hymn writers in history, publishing the words to more than 6,000 hymns in his lifetime. Charles and his brother John were ordained as Anglican clergymen, but they pushed the envelope of their tradition by emphasizing personal and methodical study and application of Scripture and personal relationship with Christ characterized by holy living. The hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” is one example of that emphasis.
“Come Thou long expected Jesus; Born to set Thy people free. From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art. Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver; Born a child and yet a King. Born to reign in us forever; Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal spirit; Rule in all our hearts alone. By Thine all sufficient merit; Raise us to Thy glorious throne.”
Our lives matter so much to God that he “came” to us in Jesus. My prayer is that we would enter this season with an ADVENTageous perspective.
Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association headquartered in Decatur.