A Word About Advent and Christmas
ADVENT seems to be about the coming of CHRISTMAS, but is it? CHRISTMAS seems to be about the birth of Jesus, but is it really?
I love that episode of The Simpsons in which Bart, after an especially selfish celebration of Christmas, comes to a new realization: “Christmas is not just about cards and candy and presents – it’s about the birth – of Santa!”
Like Bart Simpson, we may think we understand Advent and Christmas, and we may be close, but not quite on.
The Lord’s Prayer holds a clue to the meaning of both Advent and Christmas. In it we pray for the coming of the Kingdom, saying, “Thy Kingdom come” – Adveniat Regnum tuum, in Latin – “May your Kingdom come.” Our word Advent comes from this Latin word, advenire – to arrive, based on venire, to come.
What we pray for, both in the Our Father and at Advent, is the coming of the Reign of God – the coming of Christ in glory! This is our hope – that one day Christ will come again in glory!
In ADVENT we pray that this will happen at CHRISTMAS. Aided by the words of the prophets, especially Isaiah, we recall the longing of Israel for a Messiah-King, and we join or longing to theirs.
We have no idea, of course, when Christ will come again, and so, in the fourth and final week of ADVENT, we turn our thoughts to his first coming in the flesh.
On CHRISTMAS itself, with amazement and gratitude, we thank and praise God that Christ has indeed come all those many centuries ago, and all the more do we deepen our trust and longing that he will one day come again in gory.