The advent season
The Advent Season is the beginning of the Church Year. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day (Dec 25), which is the Sunday nearest to November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24).
The word “Advent” means “coming” or “arrival,” and the Advent as a Church Season is used to refer to the Coming of Christ. The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of his return as the King in his Second Advent.
In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolises the spiritual journey of Christians, as they affirm that Jesus Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. The acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people.
So the Advent calls to mind God’s breaking into history in the incarnation and the anticipation of a future consummation of that history for which “all creation is groaning, awaiting its redemption.”
The anticipated Advent carries a dual theme of threat and promise. In view of this, Advent has come to be a time of preparation marked with prayer. While Lent is characterised by fasting and a spirit of penitence, Advent’s prayers are prayers of humble devotion and commitment; they are prayers of submission, prayers for deliverance, and prayers from those walking in darkness that are awaiting and anticipating a great light (Isa 9).
The spirit of Advent is expressed well in the parable of the bridesmaids who are anxiously awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom (Matt 25:1-13). There is profound joy at the Bridegroom’s expected coming. And yet a warning of the need for preparation echoes through the parable. But even then, the prayer of Advent is still: Come, O Come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel! Maranatha!!!
• The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC. is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com