I grew up in a church tradition where Advent was not part of the practice of worship. When I began to attend a United Methodist Church, every Christmas season there was this celebration called Advent when members of the church would come forward, read Scripture, talk about the coming of the baby Jesus, and light a candle. I always thought that was nice. I never really thought about the “why” of Advent.
Why do we celebrate Advent? The term “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” So it makes sense to celebrate the coming of the Baby Jesus, who is the Messiah and the King of all kings. Jesus is coming to be the Savior of the world and free humanity from sin. This was always reason enough for me to celebrate and embrace the Advent practice of the church I attended.
The good news is that there is more than celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, it is also to celebrate and look forward to the return of Jesus Christ to redeem God’s people from this world. Since Jesus’ time on earth, the followers of Christ have been looking back to remember how God has sustained them throughout history and are looking forward to the return of the Messiah to bring peace to our imperfect world.
I am not sure about you, but as I see the news and hear of the tragedies and injustice around the world, I am ready for Jesus to come back. Christians fighting about who is “right,” hunger, homelessness, abuse and the pressures of everyday life are overwhelming. My friends, we do not need to look far to find these events which are happening in our communities. Tragic shootings, unnecessary death, and great debate without results are the headlines of the news. Genocide, terrorism and abuse of power fill up the front page of the newspaper. So I am really ready for Jesus to come back and take me home. I often look to the sky and wonder?
So that is it? NOPE! After I look to the sky, I pause and look at me. Then I ask, what is my role as a human living in this world? Am I making a difference? I call myself Christian, but do I live like I believe it? My friends, being Christian is being like Christ. I ask then, am I? I fall terribly short in this practice, but I striving to get better at it. I believe we are called to be Advent people who are looking for the return of Christ not by looking up, but by living life like Jesus. If time is short, then I need to be sharing Jesus with everyone. My actions, my words, my life. I do not always get it right, but even making my human mistakes I want to make them for the good of Jesus Christ.
The mission statement of the United Methodist denomination, based on Matthew 28:19, is found in The Book of Discipline, which is the polity of the denomination states, “The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” This means to help others find a relationship with Jesus Christ and then change the world. I am deeply moved to understand Advent this Christmas season not only as looking forward to the coming of Christ, but to be doing something about it. I do not want to just look and ponder, I desire to actively share Christ and help others look forward to the coming of Jesus Christ in their life.
What about YOU?
The writer is the pastor of Maplewood and Lockington United Methodist churches.