Advent Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Advent

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One of the blessings of Advent is that it counteracts the hype of the commercial Christmas madness, inviting us to a deeper and more fruitful spiritual renewal. One of two penitential seasons in the liturgical calendar for four weeks prior to Christmas, Advent prepares us for great event of the incarnation. Advent calls us to meditate on the three "comings" of Christ: his advent at Bethlehem, his coming into our lives today, and his final coming at the end of time. The postures of Advent are hope and waiting.

In Scripture

Definition of Advent Advent is not a biblical word in itself, but it means "a coming." Advent is both a preparatory season for the coming of Christ in Bethlehem and the anticipation of the coming of Christ at the last day.

Christ's Second Coming In churches that follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), the readings for Advent focus on hope in Christ's second coming, repentance via John the Baptist, the anticipation of Christ's birth in prophesy (especially in the book of Isaiah), and the Virgin Mary.

Prepare the Way John the Baptist calls us to "prepare the way of the Lord" through repentance.

Common themes and sermon series for Advent might be the four women of the genealogy in Matthew 1, the Old Testament prophesies of the coming of Christ in Isaiah, and the figures around the birth of Christ (Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph, the Shepherds, Herod, the Magi.)

Points to Ponder

Needing Redemption While the rest of the world is busy hanging the greens, we "deck the halls" with purple and blue. The poor old church is out of step as usual, unable, or perhaps unwilling, to catch the spirit of the holidays. The world wants brightly colored lights and jingle bells and we get out the dark blue and sing about how lost we are. Far from what the world expects, Advent begins not on a note of joy but with a searching inventory of our deep uneasiness and aching need. We dare not rush to Bethlehem and kneel at the manger until we spend some time here, in a purple-hung church, admitting that we do, in fact, need redemption.

Luci Shaw "Advent is a season of waiting and an opportunity to discover the unique spirituality of waiting. "During the waiting times God is vibrantly at work within us, and if, through the Spirit of God, we have been united with the Father in dynamic relationship, if God has sown his gospel seed in us, then Jesus is being formed within us little by little, day by day. But we have to wait if the word is to become flesh within us. And that kind of waiting feels like work".

Kathleen Norris "I've learned how much the Advent season holds, how it breaks into our lives with images of light and dark, first and last things, watchfulness and longing, origin and destiny".

William Willimon: Christ's Second Coming "For some, Christ's [second] coming is terrifying. Old verities give way at his arrival. Those who make their living by the status quo do not rejoice when the status quo is threatened. Caesar trembles, empires topple, and the earth shakes. For those tied to the old age and its gods, its armies, its delusions of immortality, its false securities, the arrival of the Son of Man is bad news. `Apocalypse now,' cry the prophets of doom. Let us put away these prophets, close our eyes and speak optimistically of tomorrow. But those who have watched, who have heeded the signs, who have never made peace with the status quo, who have lived as if there were no tomorrow prick up their ears, straighten, stand on tiptoes. The Anointed One comes, their redemption is near and the world's doom becomes their deliverance".

William Willimon: Christmas Carols "That's why the church generally refrains from singing Christmas carols during Advent. That's why purple, the color of penitence, adorns our altar and the neck of your preacher. We dare not rush to greet the Redeemer prematurely until we pause here, in a darkened church, to admit that we do need redemption. Nothing within us can save us. No thing can save us. We've tried that before. No president, no bomb, no new car, no bottle, no white Christmas can save. No! to all false consolation, we say. No! to the empty, contrived merriment of a terminal world. Our hope must be in someone out there who comes to us. We find our way only because One comes, takes our hand and leads us home".

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.