Advent: a brief introduction

Advent is from the Latin adventus meaning “coming.” Advent is traditionally a time when Christians memorialize the coming of Christ in His incarnation and anticipate Christ’s imminent return as cosmic judge and king.

There are various themes and traditions involved with the Advent season, but the most common in the Western world is the systematic lighting of 5 candles as part of an Advent wreath or candelabrum.

Each candle represents a feature of anticipating and celebrating the coming of Jesus Christ. Hope, love, joy, and peace are the word-themes most commonly associated with the first four candles. Each is lighted in succession over the span of 4 weeks, usually corresponding with a daily reading and prayer related to the respective word-theme and Christ’s advent.

The fifth and final candle is traditionally lighted on Christmas day. This last candle symbolizes Christ Himself, and its lighting becomes the final memorial of the Christmastime expectation and celebration. This too is usually accompanied by a reading (often the Christmas story in Luke 2) and prayer.

However you keep Christmas in your family or church, may we all intend to keep it well. For Christ has come… let earth receive her King!

 

*For those interested, I will be posting brief daily notes through Christmas day (see the “Advent” category on my blog). These posts will correspond to the Advent calendar and may provide helpful daily readings for you and/or your family.

May God graciously give us hearts that celebrate the King who came and anticipate the King who is coming!

Right Thinking…

What do Murder, Marriage, and Monarchy have in common?

They all begin with the letter “M” of course…

Another thing that they have in common is that they each have captured the attention of millions of people in recent days.  The death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, the Supreme Court ruling that legitimized and validated homosexual relationships, and the birth of a nominal prince has each drawn the intense interest of many.

It is often very easy to be swept away by the floodwaters of common concern, and all of these issues are not necessarily unimportant, relatively speaking.  However, these three are examples of issues that can effortlessly blur our lenses.

From the numerous “talking heads” on television and the millions of want-to-be psychologists, theorists, sociologists, theologians and logicians that find their way to a social media platform, we constantly drink in the worldview of those around us.  Most times this happens without our being aware of it at all.

Because of the regularity with which we experience unbiblical – untrue and unhelpful – thoughts, words and deeds, it is vital that you and I spend significant effort on “Right Thinking.”

Right Thinking is the kind of thinking that makes us say right things and do right things.  If you know that a cup contains a clear poisonous liquid – you will not likely drink it as water, and you certainly would not encourage others to quench their thirst with it.

Right Thinking is produced when right or truthful information is understood, admitted and trusted.  If you are going to successfully avoid driving off of the road because of a fallen bridge, then you are going to need to understand that there is danger ahead, admit that the danger is a real danger, and trust that the danger applies to you.  Any of these three may be removed and Right Thinking will fail.

With an embracing frequency, people will claim “faith,” but they will have no understanding of the substance thereof.  In other words, the idea is to believe… but believe what?  As nicely as I might say it, if “trust” is not placed in an understood and admittedly real object, then it is not trust… It is credulity.

Credulity is an attribute of a person who would be willing to buy oceanfront property in Oklahoma (as if anyone actually wanted to live there).  Credulous people are those who will believe anything you tell them; they are gullible.

As Christians, we have the benefit of an objective reality that has been communicated to humanity in understandable terms, so that it might be acknowledged as true and believed or trusted with certainty.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that God saves.  It is a historical, factual story that took place in real human experience.  The content and implications of that message are HUGE and more important than anything else – ever.

Take some time today to refocus your lenses on the most important information, concepts and message.  Invest some effort in “Right Thinking.”  You are likely to find that there is incredible benefit to be enjoyed from such a change.

The Bible talks about Right Thinking…

“[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” 

Philippians 4:8-9