Christ Has Come and Will Come Again
Greetings Second Episcopal District Family!
We are jubilantly blessed beyond measure to greet you in the midst of all the festivities and holiday celebrations during this Advent Season – a season of celebration and anticipation. “Oh Immanuel, God with us,” is in every aspect of our lives! He’s with us in the midst of our “to-do” lists and rush. He’s with us in songs of praise and worship that echo in our minds and come from our lips. He’s with us as we engage in ritual and lighting of the Advent candles. He’s with us in a card that we give or receive from a friend. He’s with us in the midst of all the, shopping, gift giving and receiving. All that we do are signs of God’s presence with us.
Likewise, we can feel the excitement in the air as individuals, families, and churches prepare to celebrate the Christmas season. A very important part of this celebration is Advent, which is the season of the year leading up to Christmas. The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” “arrival,” “appearing,” or “presence.” During Advent we not only celebrate Christ’s first coming, but we look forward to His second coming which New Testament Christians call the Parousia (Greek). Parousia means that Christ will return for His people, establishing His eternal kingdom.
The Advent season lasts for four Sundays, beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, or the nearest Sunday to November 30th. Calendar Dates for 2017 are as follows:
• December 3rd is the first Sunday of Advent and marks the start of the Christian year;
• December 10th is the second Sunday in Advent;
• December 17th is the third Sunday in Advent; and
• December 24th is the fourth Sunday in Advent and ends on Christmas Day. The Christmas holiday marks the beginning of the Christian church’s liturgical year.
The evergreen circle symbolizes the eternal life that Jesus brings. The four colored candles surrounding a white one in the middle are lighted on successive Sundays. The first candle is the candle of hope or expectation. The three remaining candles are given various meanings depending on the church’s ritual. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the center white candle is lighted; this is the “Christ Candle,” and a reminder that Jesus, the Light of the World, has come.
Because God sent His Son, the greatest gift to all humankind, let’s remember the real reason we focus on Advent in the life the Christian Church. The adage that is repeated by millions, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” is not just rhetoric, but the wise saying is as true today as it was at Jesus’ Incarnation, and will continue as we wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. As Christians, our daily lives should reflect that we live in celebration and eager anticipation. As believers we must remember not only Christ's first coming to earth as a human baby, but we must also celebrate his continued presence with us today through the Holy Spirit.
May we allow God’s Holy Spirit to fill us with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). May Immanuel’s hand be upon us and actualize faith and hope in our lives so that others can see Christ in us. May we reach out to others and share the love he so willingly showed us. Likewise, let us make prayer our vital lifeline during this Advent Season, and a daily menu in our lives. Prayer is an amazing way to help cut away from distractions of the season. Prayer opens our hearts to prepare for celebrating the joy of Christ’s birth, and the expectant faith and hope that we have in the promise that Jesus Christ has come and will come again. This is the essence of Advent!
In Commemoration and Expectation and in the Spirit to Empower the People,
James and Arelis Davis