Advent – In a Secular World
27th November 2022 marks the First Sunday of Advent this year. Advent extends over the last four Sundays before Christmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin advenio, “to come to”, and refers to the coming of Christ. Advent reminds Christians of the sacred meaning of Christmas, that is, the birth of Jesus. Therefore, it is a time of preparation and celebration.
The colours associated with Advent are purple and rose, representing penance and joy. As we begin this season, let us be mindful of, and open to, happiness in our lives because – following the words of Jesus – we do not know when “the flood” will come and “carry it away”. (Mt. 24: 39)
With this in mind, Advent is also associated with secular preparations for Christmas; party season, buying presents, the return of family and friends and the hustle and bustle that society now correlates with the lead up to Christmas. Yes, it is true that these elements have fast become the priority of Christmas and perhaps overshadow its sacred meaning. However, perhaps the sharing of gifts, spending time with family and the writing of Christmas cards carries with them a sacred element. Jesus proclaims that “in the days of Noah, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Mt. 24:37), all elements of a modern Christmas.
With this in mind, the giving and receiving of gifts can be equated to the liturgical proclamation of “peace be within you”. (Psalm 122:8) Offering a gift to someone is the simple gesture of “peace”, announcing to the recipient, “May peace be within your walls, prosperity in your buildings”. (Psalm 122:7)
As we enter the season of Advent, “let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5). In all we do, let it be in the name of the Lord, preparing at all times for “at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come”. (Mt. 24:44)
Consequently, let us rejoice during this season, prepare for a celebration with family and friends, and support those who are alone, offering a peaceful and joyous gesture to all those you encounter. By putting “on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12) and avoiding “rivalry and jealously” (Romans 12:13) during the season of Advent, there is an opportunity to combine both the traditional and secular elements of Christmas, as we await the birth of Jesus Christ.
Image: Grant Whitty – Unsplashed – https://unsplash.com/photos/ZeLkq7Spvfs