Here is the 1st of many spiritual reflections this season. Some, I will author, others like today's come from guest contributors. Today's reflection is from Rev. Tommy Herndon, a retired pastor from the Virginia Conference.
May the Holy Spirit use all the means of grace to transform our hearts and minds now and always.
The word Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”. This is a translation of the Greek word Parousia. Advent is a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians – the January feast of Epiphany. Epiphany is the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29) and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During the season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for the celebration. Originally there was little connection between Advent and Christmas. By the 6th Century, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. The coming they had in mind was not the baby coming to Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas. Today, the season of Advent lasts for the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. At that time the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6. Advent 2020 begins on Sunday, November 29, and ends on Thursday, December 24. It seems like people prepare for Christmas earlier every year. Stores put out Christmas decorations before Halloween. Everywhere you go people are asking, “Are you ready for Christmas?” I think the answer to that question is: “Are you ready for Jesus?”. John the Baptist was sent by God to get the people ready to meet Jesus. In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. This is He who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight paths for him.’” People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (Matthew 3:1-3) Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to be ready for Jesus this year – this day! I can’t do this on my own. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit. Amen. Matthew 3:1-3 –“A voice of one calling in the desert – Prepare the way for the Lord….” Author: Tommy Herndon Blessed Advent, Pastor Josh