The English word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin word ‘Adventus’, meaning ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’. It refers to spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ into the world at Christmas during the month immediately preceding Christmas. It is a season of solemn preparation for welcoming Christ for the believers in meditation, prayer, homilies and reformation of our minds and hearts. Pope Benedict the 16th said, “Advent is the spiritual season of hope par excellence, and in this season the whole Church is called to be hope, for itself and for the world”. Christians are to prepare to welcome Christ in their lives. He came to this world and dwelt among us and preached to Good news of the rule of God in all of Creation. But we also believe that he is also coming back to this world in eternal glory as the Ruler, the King and the Judge. So, Advent is verily a season of prayers and meditation to prepare for meeting him.
Speaking about Jesus Christ the great apostle Paul wrote to the Church in the city of Colossae, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him , and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross ” (Colossians 1: 115-20). This particular passage from the Holy Scripture was perhaps a doxological hymn sung in the early Church. This praises Christ, the unique divine-human being. He is the only begotten Son of God coming to fully show God’s love and grace for fallen mankind. Christ is the image of God, who is invisible. His Supremacy is manifested in two ways: he is the first born of all creation of God and is the first born from among the dead. He is the supreme in Creation and also in redemption. The epistle of Paul to the Christians in the first century Church at Colossae was written to express this truth about Christ, the Savior of the World against some syncretistic and as such heretical teachings.
When angel Gabriel gave Mary, the mother of Jesus, the news that she was to give birth to Jesus, as Luke 1: 29 records, she was greatly troubled. She was troubled because it was unimaginable or unthinkable that she would be the mother of the Messiah; and also because she was a virgin. So obscure and poor Mary was she felt too humble and as such greatly troubled to receive such news as that. She surrendered to the holy will of God in her life as she was told by the angel that she was to conceive in the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to be humble. We fall short of God’s standard of holiness because of our pride and unworthy life. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (right at the beginning of the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3). These words of Jesus imply that it is those who realize and admit that they are poor in the spirit and who are not arrogant and haughty they are blessed. Every people are in fact poor in the spirit. But very few can realize or do admit of this spiritual poverty. Advent is a time for us to be humble and to accept the fact that we can approach God in humility and purity of heart. The Book of Common Prayer (17th century) has in it this prayer: “Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit in great humility, so that at the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we rise to the life immortal.”
Let this season be a time for us when we can offer our prayers to God in trust and hope in genuine humility for ourselves and also for the world at large where the lives of millions grope in hopeless. To conclude this meditation we join the great thinker and author Matthew Kelly, who wrote, “God of hope, I look to you with an open heart and yearning spirit. During this Advent season, I will keep alert and awake, listening to your word and keeping to your precepts. My hope is in you.” May the eternal Christ enlighten our lives, strengthen our minds and sanctify our hearts by his grace and light so that we can worthily magnify him and love others and all of God creation for the good of all and for his eventual glory and praise!
The writer is a Christian Theology teacher and a Church leader