‘His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace’ Isaiah 9:6
As we prepare to enter the season of Advent what are we thinking about, and what does it mean for us?
It is a time when people are busy preparing for Christmas. Some are thinking about Christmases in the past when they were young, or of when their families were younger. Some are thinking about people who are no longer with us at Christmas or are worrying about money at this time. Some are filled with excitement, others sadness. People might be getting Advent calendars for children, grandchildren, partners, and friends, so they have the magic of opening a window and having a chocolate or gift each day in the build-up to Christmas.
No one is really sure when Advent was first celebrated, but it dates back to at least 567 when monks were ordered to fast during December. Some people still fast at this time to help them to concentrate on preparing to celebrate Jesus’s coming. In medieval times in parts of England, people had a box, sometimes with a glass lid, covered with a white napkin, that contained two dolls representing Mary and baby Jesus. The box was covered with ribbons and flowers and carried from door to door. It was thought to be unlucky if you hadn’t seen a box before Christmas Eve, and people paid the box carriers a halfpenny to see it. In the 19th Century, German Christians counted down to Christmas by marking 24 chalk lines on a door and rubbing one off every day in December. The largest Advent calendar ever made was displayed in St Pancras Station, London, in 2007, and was 71 metres tall and 23 metres wide. The most expensive calendar ever made was in 2010, by a jeweller in Belgium. It had 24 glass tubes, each containing diamonds and silver, and was worth 2.1 million pounds.
For Christians, Advent has a deeper meaning. As Christians, Advent for us means ‘coming’ and is about the coming of Jesus in to the world. Isaiah prophesy that ‘His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace’ Isaiah 9:6
Advent or ‘coming’ can be described as Advent past, present and future. The first happened over 2000 years ago when Jesus came to us as a baby, to live and die for us. The second can and should be happening now, as Jesus comes in to our lives. The third will happen in the future when Jesus comes back.
Advent is a time of preparation and waiting, to celebrate the most precious gift ever given at Christmas … the gift of our Saviour, and the promise of his return.
I wish you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.