This week we celebrate the second week of Advent in the liturgical calendar, which is marked by the four Sundays' preceding Christmas. It is a time in which Christians remember the promise of a savior and recall the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a time of waiting and anticipation for what has been promised. Filled with hope, love, joy and peace each week Christians reflect on these themes.
In the first week we look forward with hope to not only the birth of the Redeemer, but His eminent return. Christians are filled with hope for what Christ did for us, saving us from our sins and the judgment they incur. Yet that hope dwells deeper than in the past as we look to the fulfillment of future promises--the second coming of the Christ and His ultimate triumph over the evil of this world. We are to live soberly and pass on this hope as we encounter the darkness that is spreading over the earth. We living waiting for His return and in the meantime redeem the time doing good, not evil.
In the second week, Christians are reminded to do all things in love, as God the Father sent His Son because of His great love for us. (See John 3:16). We give gifts, tokens of our love, in remembrance of the gifts of the three wise men and God's greatest gift to us: His son. Only the highest and purest love would allow the sacrifice His solitary and beloved child. In the cradle we see the foreshadowing of the future and recall the agape, unconditional love Christ had for us, enduring the pain and shame of crucifixion.
The tradition of Advent, from the Latin word "ad venio", which means "to come" or "the coming" is celebrated by both Catholics and Protestants alike and so there is variation in the focus for each week. Some celebrate this second week as a time to reflect on faith and its meaning. Without faith, the Word of God tells us, it is impossible to please God. Though we do not need to muster that faith ourselves, but exercise what is given us. With faith as small as a mustard seed we can do great things. Thus to focus on faith we need to have our sight on God and the work He has done for us and the work He wants to do through us,. This all ties together with love--the greatest gift of all. So whether you celebrate this week of Advent with faith or love, the focus is on the eternal work God is doing, both in the world and your personal life as we surrender to God and Christ.
Next week I'll take a look at two more importation themes of Advent.